The good new is, Erikson's "The Gardens of the Moon" is a fat, intelligent and wonderfully convoluted fantasy novel. Along with Ricardo Pinto's quite dissimilar but equally intelligent "The Chosen", this is one of the best genre debuts to appear in the last two or three years. (As an aside: Erikson is a Canadian, now living in the UK. Pinto is Portuguese, but also lives in the UK. Hmm, wonder if I should emigrate too? After all, look at Poirot... Quite good for the little grey cells, it seems).
The not so good news (well, the daunting news, at least) is that "Gardens" seems to be the first of a projected 10-volume series. Oh dear! Not again!
Of course, the good news is not going to sound too good if you don't like "military" fantasy. "Gardens" is very much about war, dealing as it does with the Empress of Malazan attempting to conquer, by foul means rather than fair, everything in (and indeed out of) her site. There's a lot of intrigue and a lot of politics, and there's a hell of a lot of (deftly distributed) historical background, but in this first instalment at least, that's what it pretty much boils down to.
Conversely, the not so good news is going to sound very sweet if you're the sort of reader who gobbles up each and every of Glen Cook's "Black Company" books the moment they appear. "Gardens" is not only similar to the Black Company series in that it deals mainly with the often magical struggles between irreconcilable and not quite comprehensible adversaries, but also in that it generally depicts events from the viewpoint of the more or less "ordinary" soldier (sorcerous or otherwise). Erikson is, however, better at this than Cook; he is also rather more ambitious.
Think of it this way: "Gardens" is reminiscent of Cook, if Cook wrote like George R.R. Martin. That should give you an idea.
Finally: this is not a book for the casual reader. If you tend to read a chapter or so every few weeks, don't bother. You're bound to get confused. There're just too many characters, too many deviations, too many goings-on. This is one of those books that demands your attention.
Well then, that's that. I'm off to England!