on 31 May 2013
I read this book a whils since and enjoyed it. It encouraged me to begin from the first book. Having read all the books up to date this was much more enjoyable - knowing something of the events mentioned.
on 1 April 2015
As with the previous books there is a huge amount of build up and many intertwined stories leading to a final 100 or so pages where you can't stop reading.
Looking forward to getting started on the next one now!
on 18 October 2011
I was extremely disappointed with this novel in the series. Every other book has been a 5 star, with maybe a couple of 4 stars' so far. In fact I read them all again a second time while I waited for this book to come out. This book is one of the hardest I have ever read...due to it being so ludicrously boring. Far too much of it focuses on groups of miserable characters (e.g. Clips' Tiste Andii troupe), that are an absolute chore to read about. There are three main story arcs, two of which (Clips' group and the Cult of the Redeemer/Dying God) are absolutely pointless, add nothing to the main series arc, and particularly in the case of the redeemer, seem to be extremely underdeveloped.
There are a few highlights, Karsa gets some page time which is always a bonus, and I genuinely loved the stuff with the little boy in the mining camp (can't remember his name). But unfortunately the interesting characters don't get enough story time.
However, don't give up hope, as I am glad to say I am halfway through Dust of Dreams so far and it is a definite return to form. Throughout my life I will read this series again and again, but I think each re-read will definitely miss out this pointless and boring book.
on 3 March 2009
This is the 8th book in Steven Erikson's 'Malazan Book of the Fallen" series.
Of all the books in the Malazan series, this is, without a doubt, my least favorite...I will explain
First, the pros;
Overall, this series is epic fantasy at its best; in fact 829 pages in this book alone. There is intrigue, magic, unexpected enemies and friends and even some erotic moments; not to mention the usual backstabbing and clandestine plotting. In this book we are reacquainted with some old friends from previous tales, e.g. Cutter, Druiker, Karso Orlong (Toblakai warrior), Anomander Rake and last but not least, the ever loquacious, forever famished, mound of round, Kruppe.
Erikson's strength is his use of prose to describe people and their surrounding, all the while weaving a tale his characters come alive in; this latest installment is no exception. However, this may be the first in all the books of this series that may be deemed somewhat overwritten, mainly because of some of these perceived strengths. Which leads me into commenting on...
1.)As with previous Erikson works, the book starts off by given brief glimpses of several different developing stories. The problem here, in my opinion, is that unlike previous books, most of these story lines do not really develop into something resembling a plot until well after the first 200+ pages.
2.)In addition to the slow development, the writing seems disjointed and difficult to follow; I had to almost 'study' sections to try to figure out what Erikson had his characters doing and saying.
3.)I found I became 'weary' of trying to interpret the vague, unclear conversations and happenings that occurred through out most of the entire novel. Eventually I stopped trying to figure out the difficult passages and just concentrated on sections that I found easy to understand; I don't think I'd have finished the book otherwise.
4.)I never thought I'd ever hear myself saying this about an Erikson book; I found myself somewhat bored by some of the dragged out, confusing descriptions and tales; almost to the point of skimming them.
5.)And last, I can't remember the last time I've been so happy to have finally finished a book.
An intriguing Malazan tale that had potential, but unfortunately got mired down with a sluggish beginning and middle; the last section (Toll the Hounds) was better...but overall, a somewhat 'difficult' read. That is not to say there weren't some great moments in this book, because there were, many in fact; and this was my main reason for rating the book as high as I did.
I seems to me that Erikson has 'stumbled' with this book; he knows what he's talking about, but I can't say the same for me. I wonder about other readers; I'm I the only one to notice this tendency towards 'unreadability'?
I hope Erikson gets back on track with his next installment; one more book like this and he may begin to lose some of his loyal followers.
Difficult to rate this book, so I settled for a 3.5 and rounded it up to a 4.0 (rather than down to a 3.0 ) because I decided to give Erikson the benefit of the doubt...for this one.
Addendum Nov 15/08
For anyone who wished to continue to satisfy their "Malazan" addiction, or for that matter, want to read a Malazan story that's a little less confusing and has more action than the last book by Erikson, may I humbly suggest the newest novel by Ian C. Esslemont, 'Return of the Crimson Guard'. A book with a riveting story and some fantastic action; and written with a simplicity of language that I've started to miss with some of Erikson's latest books (especially 'Toll the Hounds')
IF your a 'Malazan' fan, you'll not be disappointed.
on 10 August 2011
This is a series that has always confounded traditional expectations, and even at this late stage continues to do so. With the main plot built to a crescendo both in terms of epic action and breathless tension... Erikson chooses to pause and take stock before delivering the conclusion.
This is a much more low-key, intimate book than recent installments, with the story more personal and effecting than is usual.
We rejoin a few scattered Bridgeburner survivors, as well as Crokus and his disparate group as they come full circle to the city of Darujhistan. Their travails may not be as mammoth as some in the series, but they are perhaps just as important.
Erikson continues to juggle dozens of characters with skill, and still manages not to disappoint with a finale that sees many of the most powerful figures in the series come together in a clash that ends in a very important death or two...
The writing is as good as ever, and I get the feeling that the small pause provided by this novel will be more than welcome as the grand finale of this already impressive series begins.
on 2 July 2008
An exhaustive review for this has already been given, so I'm just going share a few of my thoughts.
For me, this is the best book yet in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. It is certainly the most intricate so far with more characters and happenings than ever (at least it seems that way). It moves along through the first three parts at a fairly sedate pace laying the ground for an earth shattering final part. As mentioned in another review, at times in this book Erikson adopts a different writing style, in which he is actually speaking to you of the events occuring at the time. It's pretty much exclusive to the goings on in Darujhistan, and I rather enjoyed it, though I don't expect we'll be seeing it again. The book is filled with a sense of melancholy (a result of the focus given to the Tiste Andii and an unloved child called Harllo), and it gets downright tearful in places. Comic relief is provided by the incomparable Iskaral Pust, and, of course, Kruppe.
I loved this book and cannot wait for the concluding volumes.
Another year, another book in Steven Erikson's enormous Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Toll the Hounds is the eighth (of ten) novel in the series, but given that the final two books are one immense story split in half for length, it is also the penultimate chapter of this series.
The continent of Genabackis, two years (or so) after the war between the Pannion Domin and an alliance between the Tiste Andii under Anomander Rake, the mercenary companies under Caladan Brood and a Malazan army under Whiskeyjack and Dujek Onearm. In that war half a dozen major cities and the floating fortress of Moon's Spawn were destroyed, and the final Pannion refuge in the city of Coral was devastated and occupied by the Tiste Andii. The city is now cloaked in endless night and known as Black Coral. The shattered remnants of the Bridgeburners - Mallet, Spindle, Picker, Bluepearl, Blend and Antsy - have settled in Darujhistan to run a bar whilst a shadowy group of mages awaits the long-prophecised coming of a Tyrant who will conquer it. From the west Cutter, once a Daru thief named Crokus, is returning home with a motley crew of adventurers from across the world, whilst in the south of the continent three separate groups of travellers have arrived on missions of their own. In night-shrouded Coral, Anomander Rake broods and his sword, Dragnipur, drinker of souls, becomes restless...
Toll the Hounds takes us back to where the series began in Gardens of the Moon nine years ago, Darujhistan of the blue fires, and it is with a tremendous sense of nostalgia that reader is reunited with many favourite characters from that novel and Memories of Ice, not to mention a few more familiar faces as well (some of whom get spectacular entrances). This time around the novel is not as packed with dizzying revelations and huge battles as the previous three volumes in the series, but rather than take this opportunity to shave off a few hundred pages from the book, Erikson instead takes advantage of this to paint the city of Darujhistan in much greater depth and detail than any other city in the series, moving between numerous 'lesser' POVs among the common folk of the city and events both huge and mundane in their lives. As a result Toll the Hounds is much slower-paced than any other book in the series. To a certain extent this may invite the reader to groan, but Erikson compensates for the lack of incident with deeper characterisation and motivation than ever before.
Toll the Hounds is also the Malazan series' most thematically-developed and tightest novel, with notions of family, responsibility and the role of desire all coming in for examination. Unfortunately, Erikson hasn't lost or scaled back on his tendency to have ordinary commoners spouting out philosophical arguments like Proust, but this late in the day the average reader of this series will be prepared for it. To make up for this Toll the Hounds is the funniest book in the series by some margin and, oddly given his much greater presence in the prose style (Kruppe is recounting the narrative to two other characters, and most chapters in the book open and close with Kruppe's short commentary on the events), the divisive character of Kruppe is kept to the background and only comes to the fore in a few short, memorable scenes.
As usual, events build to a huge finale and whilst the scale of those events is not in the line of the vast battles in Reaper's Gale or Memories of Ice, the significance of these events is much greater, and the stakes are definitely raised higher as the final two volumes of the series approach. Excellent humour and some major deaths and some huge revelations make Toll the Hounds essential reading for fans of the series, and if Erikson fails to overcome his standard faults, at least he doesn't exasperate them or introduce new ones with one notable exception: the timeline, which has been very problematic on occasion, is completely shot to hell in this book with several characters appearing who are much older than they should be.
Toll the Hounds (****) is available now in the UK from Bantam Books. Tor will publish the US edition in September. Ian Cameron Esslemont's second Malazan novel, Return of the Crimson Guard, which sets several characters up for the events in this book, is published in August in the UK (no US date set as yet). The ninth novel in the series, Dust of Dreams, should be published in approximately one year's time.
on 3 August 2014
By book 8 of the Malazan series, I am used to Erikson’s style, and have accepted that there will be large passages of his books that I find rather tedious to get through. The struggle has always been worth it, because the pay-off is that the good bits are simply amazing.
Even taking this into account, Toll the Hounds was a harder struggle than most. The action is set back in Darujhistan and Black Coral, and there is less going on in terms of plot than the previous book (Reaper’s Gale), with a lot of padding.
Unfortunately, the elements of Erikson’s writing that I like the least, such as the interminable philosophical monologues, are heavily used throughout Toll the Hounds. Add in a lot of characters I find boring, and some I actively dislike (Kruppe and Iskarel Pust), and this was never going to be my personal favourite of the series.
However, there are some redeeming points. The Dying God sub-plot is satisfyingly horrible, although I’m not sure it added anything to the series overall. The story involving Harllo and Murillio is also good and quite emotional, and Karsa Orlong is always great to read about.
I still found Toll the Houds a slog though, and the end was a long time coming. But when it did – wow, it was worth it!
Overall, I would probably rate this 3.5 out of 5, but I’m rounding it down just because I did find a lot of it very tiresome.
Oh dear, Toll the Hounds feels like a wasted opportunity. Erikson has tried for something different here - the book is told in the voice of Kruppe, and whether you like the style depends on how you find the Eel of Darujhistan.
I can understand the need for Erikson to do something different after 7 lengthy volumes, but for me this did not work. Kruppe's mannerisms are tolerable in small doses, but stretched to this extent just begin to grate.
I also felt that some of the new themes introduced here (such as the Dying God and Seerdomin/the Redeemer) felt underdeveloped, and would have been better either left to fill a book of their own (with a slower build to the horror of kelyk) or edited out completely.
There is still some great comedy of course, and when the end sequence *finally* begins it is of course excellent, albeit...rushed.
So, certainly not up there with Memories of Ice or Deadhouse Gates and not even as good as Midnight Tides/the Bonehunters.
However, this still does not drag the whole sequence down from its coveted Best Fantasy Series of all Time, Ever post.
on 13 December 2015
I finished the book last Saturday and today, Sunday a week later, still digest it.
It is the most unusual book in the series.
Almost (but not quite mind you!) as it were written by another writer.
In the beginning I thought it was a longer than usual prologue. After a hundred pages I have realised that it was not going to change and it was the actual narrative. All the time the momentum was growing on. An unrelenting “gut feeling” that something imminent and extremely important is happening (or about to happen) just around the corner, was never ending from the beginning. To a certain extent, one would expect it to be the last book in the series with the culmination waiting in the end of the book. So many unexpected turns of events. Unfortunately, some of the saddest amongst them.
Fortunately, it (the last book) was a misleading expectation and we still have a long way to go.
I absolutely loved the book and quite possibly will re-read it after the next book. According to my research, the next book to be read is Esslemont’s novel - Stonewielder. The first two were disappointing. However, I will try anyway. At least from the academical/historical point of view.
Then on to Dust of Dreams and The Crippled God to be read back to back as one long book.