After the disappointing Reaper’s Gale, the eighth book of the ‘Malazan Book of the Fallen’ is here. Toll the Hounds move the story back to the continent of Genabackis; to the city of Darujhistan, where the reminds of the Bridgeburners are having a less than happy retirement, and the new city Black Coral, where Anomander Rake has put together a daring plan to right an ancient wrong.
After the disappointing Reaper’s Gale, I’m glad to say Steven Erikson is back. Erikson has a love for making his stories epic in scope and the “Malazan Book of the Fallen” series has not always been better for it.
However Toll the Hounds is truly epic in scope and it works. Although the action takes place in the here and now, the reasons for the action of the characters are rooted in actions that took place eons ago. As usual, scenes jumped from one end of the continent to the other; from the here and now to ancient times; and then back again. A lot of characters also make their return in this book, some of whom are unexpected (isn’t Mappo dead?) and some are very welcome.
However for all the various plots and revelations in “Toll the Hounds”, the main story is on the Son of Darkness, Anomander Rake. Rake is the leader of a people without a god, without hope and without a future. In the end, the third son of Darkness sacrifices himself for his plan to bring back his mother for the good of his people and save the world along with it.
“Toll the Hounds” has a lot going for it. Rake’s plan worked well and the finish where everyone meets up in Darujhistan was filled with tension. Characters that populate the book are as interesting as always and certain characters got their deserved screen time. With more time, comes more character development (Hood comes to mind especially in this category) and the story is better for it.
It’s also interesting to see how a minor god is born in the Malazan world. In a world filled with gods, ancient gods, minor gods, demi-gods, and mortals powerful enough to be demi-gods themselves; I found this to be very interesting. The hints for the next book are very encouraging in this as well. It will deal with the death of Fener, the Boar of Summer. With his death, all the minor gods of war are clamoring to take over the portfolio of God of War and it will be interesting to see how a minor god turns into a god.
However as good as the book this, there are some things that didn’t ring right. At times, Rake’s plan seems a little incredulous. I don’t care how much confidence Rake has in his people, but he actually expect an old mage (even a very powerful one) to hold off the Crippled God? He actually expects a warrior (even if it is his most powerful warrior) to hold off Kallor, the High King?
Despite these missteps, “Toll the Hounds” is an excellent book which shows that there is still life in the “Malazan Book of the Fallen” series. Pick this one up.