I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while now – not so much reviews (waaay to lazy for that, and of course not much point seeing as there’s not exactly a lot of people reading this anyway) but more sort of a journal to remind me what I’ve been reading when. Depending on my mood, it might just be a list (with cover pictures, if I can manage that), or maybe a couple of sentences on how I liked the book.
So, let’s get started with…
The eighth volume (of ten) in Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series which quickly ensured him a (well-deserved) as one of the foremost authors of fantasy literature writing today. What distinguishes this series is the obsessively detailed world-building, Erikson’s visceral writing style and his general no-nonsense attitude (this is not an author to read if you have to have happy endings) – all of which gives his books, even with all their undoubtedly fantastic content, a realistic feel unmatched by any other fantasy novels I have come across.
All of those qualities are very much in evidence in Toll the Hounds – more so than in the last three series, where – at least in my opinion – the series had flagged a bit, partly due to Erikson getting a bit preachy in parts, partly because of the vast array of main characters (wouldn’t be surprised if it were close to a hundred by now) becoming utterly confusing.
Toll the Hounds starts off as a bit of a departure from previous novels, in so far as a good part of the cast presented does not stem from previous novels – which actually (my memory being what it is) made it easier for me to get into it, and I also liked the slow pacing at the start (Erikson is rather notorious for his long expositions, this one taking him about 200 pages). I rather relished that, as well as the slow but steady increase in speed, culminating in a breathtaking finale (again, about 200 pages long – the symmetry is probably not accidental) that brings a veritable onslaught of momentous revelations and important developments for the series’ main story arc.
There are two more volumes left in the series, apparently making up one installment in two parts, with a large cliffhanger separating them. Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to those, and wonder whether I might be able make the time to re-read the entirety of the series from the start when the last one comes out. (Thankfully, Erikson is under contract with his publisher to release one instalment each year – which might not be all that favourable for the novels’ quality, but at least avoids publishing disasters like A Song of Ice and Fire.)