I'm not generally a huge fantasy reader, compared to science fiction. I love Glen Cook, Robert E. Howard, and George R.R. Martin, as well as the fantasy work of David Drake and John C. Wright, but it's definitely secondary to science fiction for me.
I bought Gardens of the Moon because of all the raves I had heard about Steven Erikson and his Malazan series, and especially because I'd heard his work compared to Glen Cook's Black Company series. I liked it, but I wasn't stunned by it, and I didn't really get why Erikson was such a big deal. Still, I enjoyed it enough to try out the sequel, Deadhouse Gates.
This book is just stunning in every respect- action, imagination, emotional impact. I really can’t do it justice, but in my opinion it launches Erikson into the first rank of modern fantasy and fully justifies the Black Company comparisons.
The sequels haven’t let me down, either. Memories of Ice is a great followup (especially if, like me, you finished Deadhouse Gates thinking “All that epic adventure and thrilling martial heroism was great, but there just wasn’t enough cannibalism in it.”) More great characters, great battles, and, jokes aside, one of the most terrifying concepts I‘ve seen in fantasy in the form of the hunger-crazed, cannibalistic Tenescowri.
Truly great stuff. If you’ve only read Gardens of the Moon and weren’t inspired to read the rest of the series by it, I can’t emphasize enough how worthwhile continuing is.