A Review in Two Parts: Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson (FIN)

Wow.  Some major world shattering changes in the final pages of Toll the Hounds amidst a entertaining and tense action packed series of confrontations.  It’s difficult to discuss everything sans spoilers it but the slow build-up of the novel pays off in big ways.  Major changes in the Malazan world are going to really shake up events in the final chapters of the series and I shudder to think what kind of final confrontation Erikson will pull off.

That being said some of the viewpoints in the novel don’t feel quite as fleshed out as they could be and I’m not quite sure what they contributed to the overall plot of the novel.  There is an underlying theme of redemption throughout most of the book and most of the character’s whose head’s we dip into reflect that.  This is reinforced by the final confrontations in the book which, by and large, resolve each character’s own external and internal conflicts in regards to redemption; except in the case of a select few who seem to get left by the wayside.  If you’ve been reading the series so far this won’t stop you now but it was a little frustrating to see characters that I like make little progress in terms of character.  But that is the nature of such a large and diverse cast.

On a related note I think the Dramatis Personae needs some better organization and a return of a glossary/Deck of Dragons listing from earlier books would certainly be appreciated.

That being said this was one hell of a ride and I find myself continually and increasingly impressed with Erikson’s skill as a writer.  I can thing of few, if any, authors that can manage so many viewpoints at once with such a deft hand.  Erikson, unfortunatley, tends to be overlooked in US; which is a shame.  I don’t know where to point the blame for that.  Erikson deserves to, and in my mind does, stand shoulder to shoulder with the respected “greats” of the fantasy genre.

Damn shame I have to wait another year for Dust of Dreams.  At least I’ll have Return of the Crimson Guard (Esslemont’s Malazan novel) and The Lees at Laugher’s End (Erikson’s third Bochalain and Broach novella set in the Malazan world) to tide me over in the mean time.

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