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Toll the Hounds: Book Eight of The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765310088
Date: 16 September 2008 List Price $27.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

This is book eight of The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Most of this book is set in Darujhistan, where a prophecy is about to unfold. Deep in the intrigue are a set of retired Bridge Burners, running a pub while they wait for who knows what. At the same time, in the city of Black Coral, events are unfolding as Anomander Rake begins to set his own path of redemption and revenge. Within it all, Baruk, Cutter, Scillara, Isakaral Pust, Samar Dev, Mappo Runt, Picker, Antsy, Mallet, Duiker, Meese and Kruppe maneuver for their own advantage and lives. As usual, there is more than meets the eye and much more than can be told as the gods work to undermine each other and play their own games of dominance and fate.

As with all of the books in this series, this one is a big one and Erikson starts slow, as he has in all the previous books. So slowly and with such a disjointedness that you begin to wonder whether he is telling one story or ten. While in all of the previous books, things begin to come together and make sense somewhere between page 100 and page 150, this time everything remains disconnected. I found myself struggling to understand what was happening and wishing that Erikson had either taken more time on the plot to strengthen everything or had simply cut much of this out and gone straight to book nine. I have to say that this is the first book that I did not fully enjoy. And I do love the series, at least up to this point.

It's hard to say what happened here, whether Erikson is simply running out of steam or if the book revolved around a series of plot moves that simply weren't that interesting, but necessary. The characters are the same that existed in previous books, but they had much less to do here, spending a lot of time sitting around as the action came to them.

I still liked the book but the first seven were so well done that there's a fairly high standard to meet and this book fell a bit short. If Erikson comes back with a book nine that's powerful and moving strongly toward resolution then this book will simply be seen as somewhat of a pause before the finish. If the next book is the same, however, we may be looking at editor interruptus, or a series that should have been seven books instead of ten.

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