Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen #8), by Steven Erikson
3 out of 5 (Liked It)
It is said that Hood waits at the end of every plot, every scheme, each grandiose ambition. But this time it is different: this time the Lord of Death is there at the beginning…
Darujhistan swelters in the summer heat and seethes with portents, rumours and whispers. Strangers have arrived, a murderer is abroad, past-tyrannies are stirring and assassins seem to be targeting the owners of K’rul’s Bar. For the rotund, waistcoat-clad man knows such events will be dwarfed by what is about to happen: for in the distance can be heard the baying of hounds.
Far away, in Black Coral, the ruling Tiste Andii appear oblivious to the threat posed by the fast-growing cult of the Redeemer – an honourable, one-mortal man who seems powerless against the twisted vision of his followers.
So Hood waits at the beginning of a conspiracy that will shake the cosmos, but at its end there is another: Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness, has come to right an ancient and terrible wrong…
Toll the Hounds brought the story back to the continent of the first and third books. I was a bit peeved to start, since it took so long to get back there, especially since book three was my favourite going in, but then I was excited for a long awaited return to some of my favourite characters in the series.
After completion, however, I left more than a little disappointed. For one, the book was far longer than it needed to be. The author rambled on and on with the frequent philosophies on depressing topics that we are accustomed to, almost all of which were directed straight to the reader, having little or nothing to do with the story, even with the POV character at the time. As I have said in recent reviews, the ramblings are past jaded, but this time he really overdid it.
Second, although the story on its own was pretty solid, it did not have much to do with anything else in the series, like progressing the main plot. Actually, I’m not sure there is a main plot at all in this series. Honest. Anyway, even though Hounds did technically continue things from book three on the continent of Genabackis, the fallout at the end of that story made it difficult for a true continuance, and it ended up feeling like a brand new thing altogether with secondary connections to past events. All in all, book eight felt like a giant side-quest that was mostly disappointing, especially since the book before it, Reaper’s Gale, was so good. Not disappointing for what it was as an individual book, but for what it contributed to the series. I have to agree with some other reviews of this book which claim that if it was earlier on in the series, many would stop reading. In fact, I would go a step further and suggest that if that were the case, this series would not be as popular as it is today.
Now, as for the plot, it was fairly satisfying. Nice to see that in this sad, hopeless world of Malaz there is room for a few happy endings. The overall ending was well done and exciting in another patented Erikson “convergence”. It should be noted though that it was strange how there were a few hints that something big was eventually going to go down, yet it was impossible to know what that actually was (in any meaningful way, shape, or form) until it was happening before your eyes.
If you can’t tell yet, I am calling this the easy choice for the bottom of the list (so far). There are a lot of pages to go with two more books remaining, but I am excited to know the ending, and glad to return to the “main plot” and characters.
NEXT BOOK: Nine Princes in Amber. A short, much needed break before rounding the final stretch with this series.
© 2013 FOTS Fantasy