Gardens of the Moon
A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen
This novel is dedicated to
I. C. Esslemont
worlds to conquer worlds to share
No novel is ever written in isolation. The
author wishes to thank the following for their
support over the years: Clare Thomas, Bowen,
Mark Paxton-MacRae, David Keck, Courtney,
Ryan, Chris and Rick, Mireille Theriacelt,
Dennis Valdron, Keith Addison, Susan, David
and Harriet, Clare and David Thomas Jr, Chris
Rodell, Patrick Carroll, Kate Peach, Peter
Knowlson, Rune, Kent and Val and the kids,
my tireless agent Patrick Walsh, and Simon
Taylor, one terrific editor.
Preface to Gardens of the Moon redux
There is no point in beginning something without ambition. In so many aspects of my life I have held to that notion, and it has led to more than one fiery crash
through the years. I still recall, with some bitterness, the response Cam (Ian C. Esslemont) and I received when flogging our co-written feature film and television
scripts: 'Wonderful! Unique! Very funny, very dark... but here in Canada, well, we just can't budget for this stuff. Good luck.' In many ways, it was what followed
by way of advice that proved the most crushing. 'Try something ... simpler. Something like everything else out there. Something less ... ambitious.'
We'd walk out of meetings frustrated, despondent, baffled. Did we really hear an invitation to mediocrity? Sure sounded like it.
Well, screw that.
Gardens of the Moon. Just to muse on that title resurrects all those notions of ambition, all that youthful ferocity that seemed to drive me headlong against a wall
time and again. The need to push. Defy convention. Go for the throat.
I like to think I was entirely aware of what I was doing back then. That my vision was crystal clear and that I was actually standing there, ready to spit in the face of
the genre, even as I reveled in it (for how could I not? As much as I railed against the tropes, I loved reading the stuff). Now, I'm not so sure. It's easy to ride on
instinct in the moment, only to look back later and attribute cogent mindfulness to everything that worked (while ignoring everything that didn't). Too easy.
In the years and many novels since, certain facts have made themselves plain. Beginning with Gardens of the Moon, readers will either hate my stuff or love it.
There's no in-between. Naturally, I'd rather everybody loved it, but I understand why this will never be the case. These are not lazy books. You can't float through,
you just can't. Even more problematic, the first novel begins halfway through a seeming marathon – you either hit the ground running and stay on your feet or you're
When challenged with writing this preface, I did consider for a time using it as a means of gentling the blow, of easing the shock of being dropped from a great
height into very deep water, right there on page one of Gardens of the Moon. Some background, some history, some setting of the stage. I've since mostly
rejected the idea. Dammit, I don't recall Frank Herbert doing anything like that with Dune, and if any novel out there was a direct inspiration in terms of structure,
that was the one. I'm writing a history and fictional or not, history has no real beginning point; even the rise and fall of civilizations are far more muddled on the front
and back ends than many people might think.
Gardens of the Moon's bare bones first saw life in a role-playing game. Its first draught was as a feature film co-written by the two creators of the Malazan world,
myself and Ian C. Esslemont; a script that languished for lack of interest ('we don't do fantasy films because they suck. It's a dead genre. It involves costumes and
costume dramas are as dead as Westerns' – all this before a whole slew of production companies shoved that truism in their faces, all this long before Lord of the
Rings hit the big screen).
And that was just it. We were there. We had the goods, we knew that Adult Epic Fantasy was film's last unexplored genre – we didn't count Willow, which only
earned merit in our eyes for the crossroads scene; the rest of the stuff was for kids through and through. And all the other films coming out in that genre were either