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Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson


Werthead

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Can I ask what the experimental approach Erikson talked about added up to? If the answer somehow involves spoilers (say, anything that was not said in Pat's review), I'd prefer not to know, though.

It's not a huge spoiler since the cast list has been discussed before:

SPOILER: TTH
Kruppe is reporting on the events of the novel to K'rul (whom we know Kruppe has been involved with as far back as GotM, IIRC) and 'another' whom we've heard from before, but never met. The chapters then alternate between those in Darujhistan and those elsewhere, and the Darujhistan chapters open and close with a more-florid-than-usual descriptive passage, which seems to be from Kruppe's direct POV. Some of these are good, some of them are funny and some a bit lame. One of the interesting side-effects they provide is that they sum up each chapter pretty well. So, for example, one chapter may bounce from events in the Phoenix Inn to political intrigue amongst Darujhistan's council to Stonny's swordfighting school to Crone talking to Baruk, and then Kruppe sums it all up at the end and defines which events are taking place when. This actually makes keeping a hold of the enormous number of 'low-key' subplots (of which there are a lot) quite straightforward.
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Erikson did put some humour into the Dramatis Personae this time. I liked this one too: (only a mild spoiler)

SPOILER: TtH
Raest - Jaghut Tyrant (retired)

I thought Erikson got the humour spot on for most of this book. Really liked the Trygalle people we get to meet.

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That's a very good non-spoiler review.

Thinking about the overall story arc I think it makes sense to use the eight book to close the majority of the side plots and then use the last pages as a springboard.

If you consider the "whole" it makes for a perfect planning. Now he has space to concentrate the bigger plots and characters for the two-volume epilogue.

You know, you need to leave something for the end, or in a couple of years everyone will complain it was a good series with a poor ending. Let's hope not.

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I finished yesterday after reading far too much during working hours and have put together my review of Toll the Hounds. For me, this is the best one since MT and easily ranks as one of the best in the series.

Solid review. It makes me want to start the book today. But...must practice self control. I must finish what I'm reading first...

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That's a very good non-spoiler review.

Thinking about the overall story arc I think it makes sense to use the eight book to close the majority of the side plots and then use the last pages as a springboard.

If you consider the "whole" it makes for a perfect planning. Now he has space to concentrate the bigger plots and characters for the two-volume epilogue.

You know, you need to leave something for the end, or in a couple of years everyone will complain it was a good series with a poor ending. Let's hope not.

thanks, it was an enjoyable review to write.

I'm not sure I'm ready to say that he has closed up a majority of subplots, just a fair number. And while things are coming together, this is still a build-up towards the final conflict.

With the improvement that Erikson shows in this one, I am very optimistic that he will finish the series on a hight note - I think he'll blow it all open with the last book.

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I am probably the one Malazan fan that actually likes Kruppe so I suspect that Erikson's POV experiment will work for me. I like that Kruppe is hard for anyone to pin down exactly how powerful he is. If I recall in MoI, both Rake and QB have a hard time getting a fix on the level of power the fat man has.

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My review is on its way. Need to chew over some things first.

In terms of ranking, probably fourth-best, not as good as the first three, better than the last four. Erikson's enormous problems with pacing and transmitting information in a non-obtuse manner remain, but if that didn't bother you in Books 1-7 it probably won't put you off now.

Also, whilst some events in TTH will clearly continue to play a role in Books 9-10, the story overall seems something of a diversion from bigger events elsewhere.

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yeah Wert, wtf is up with his pacing? huge lulls in every book except DHG.

Anyway my copy came today. very pretty. starting it as soon as im done with my re-read of The Fall of Hyperion.

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It's not a huge spoiler since the cast list has been discussed before:

SPOILER: TTH
Kruppe is reporting on the events of the novel to K'rul (whom we know Kruppe has been involved with as far back as GotM, IIRC) and 'another' whom we've heard from before, but never met. The chapters then alternate between those in Darujhistan and those elsewhere, and the Darujhistan chapters open and close with a more-florid-than-usual descriptive passage, which seems to be from Kruppe's direct POV. Some of these are good, some of them are funny and some a bit lame. One of the interesting side-effects they provide is that they sum up each chapter pretty well. So, for example, one chapter may bounce from events in the Phoenix Inn to political intrigue amongst Darujhistan's council to Stonny's swordfighting school to Crone talking to Baruk, and then Kruppe sums it all up at the end and defines which events are taking place when. This actually makes keeping a hold of the enormous number of 'low-key' subplots (of which there are a lot) quite straightforward.

Ahh, thats actually nowhere near as bad as I was expecting, and I'm actually interested to see how he pulls it off, despite my hatred of Kruppe. Thanks Wert.

And pacing is definitely Erikson's biggest problem. Hell, even Deadhouse Gates had those incredibly tedious Chain of Dogs sections where the army was definitely definitely definitely going to die, and then what do you know, they survived thanks to a deus ex machina or some unforeseen event! It happened like 6 times, and it was a pretty good sign of Erikson's need of a good editor, a need that seems to become more and more apparent with nearly every book. Oh well. I'm still excited.

Two days till the book arrives...

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Bah. The Chain of Dogs was epic and perfectly well-paced. *shakes fist*

Wert's report of Erikson's intro to GotM railing against epic fantasy (except him and Cook) and against fans who don't "get" GotM combined with kcf's remarks about how Erikson seems to borrow Kruppe to comment on how people don't "get" his florid style, it seems to me like Erikson's developing a chip on his shoulder about the series perhaps not taking the fantasy world by storm (as monetarily) as it seemed poised to do after the initial few books. Thoughts on that?

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My review is on its way. Need to chew over some things first.

In terms of ranking, probably fourth-best, not as good as the first three, better than the last four. Erikson's enormous problems with pacing and transmitting information in a non-obtuse manner remain, but if that didn't bother you in Books 1-7 it probably won't put you off now.

Also, whilst some events in TTH will clearly continue to play a role in Books 9-10, the story overall seems something of a diversion from bigger events elsewhere.

Did you enjoy Gardens of the Moon more? Maybe there is someone who actually enjoyed Gardens as much as me. Lol. I loved that one even more than MOI looking back.

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I don't think it's monetary - Erikson has said in the past how is disappointed that all the attention on the series seems to be related to plot points, timeline inconsistencies, who the most powerful being is, etc. instead on the thematic elements that I presume are closer to his heart and what keeps him writing. I haven't read the introduction, but I imagine this is more the issue. For me, I think it's a real shame that more people don't seem to take on the thematic elements of the series - I think there is a ton of stuff there that is really quite powerful. I try to at least hint at it in my reviews and my past efforts at stoking discussion along these lines has generally fallen flat. If I ever find the time, I'll try to put some sort of essay together, but I really don't know when I'll get to it.

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Bah. The Chain of Dogs was epic and perfectly well-paced. *shakes fist*

Wert's report of Erikson's intro to GotM railing against epic fantasy (except him and Cook) and against fans who don't "get" GotM combined with kcf's remarks about how Erikson seems to borrow Kruppe to comment on how people don't "get" his florid style, it seems to me like Erikson's developing a chip on his shoulder about the series perhaps not taking the fantasy world by storm (as monetarily) as it seemed poised to do after the initial few books. Thoughts on that?

I agree. I read the Gardens intro the other day and it seemed pretty bitter and slightly egotistical- something I've found in a lot of Erikson interviews, though of course I don't know the man so its hard to comment on these things. I do think that he thinks that he deserves more success, and his books greater acclaim, especially when compared to what he seems to perceive as traditional, non-original fantasy. Now, he also says he doesn't read much fantasy anymore, and I've never met him in person, so I could be misinterpreting this completely.

As for Chain of Dogs- its epic, its one of Erikson's best storylines, and its ended extremely well- but, sorry kids, I still think it could have lost about 75-100 pages. There's only so many miraculous saves from destruction in a row that I can take without getting bored.

Edit: I'm also not too sure that Erikson is that good of a thematic writer. I'm horrible at lit crit, but it seems to me that a lot of his themes are generally jammed down the reader's throat through very similar speeches from a variety of characters. No doubt someone who's smarter than me will prove me wrong.

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Review up.

Wert's report of Erikson's intro to GotM railing against epic fantasy (except him and Cook) and against fans who don't "get" GotM combined with kcf's remarks about how Erikson seems to borrow Kruppe to comment on how people don't "get" his florid style, it seems to me like Erikson's developing a chip on his shoulder about the series perhaps not taking the fantasy world by storm (as monetarily) as it seemed poised to do after the initial few books. Thoughts on that?

I wouldn't speak too fast on that. The series seems to have hit some major sales mark around the time Bonehunters came out (possibly when the series finally made the gigantic advance back and actually started earning the author money?), and since then Bantam have been a lot more enthusiastic about the series, reprinting it, making TTH a hardcover-only release and so on. Whilst I'd be surprised if Erikson ever hit GRRM levels of sales (let alone Goodkind, Feist etc), the series does seem to be doing pretty well at the moment.

I think KCF's remarks about the themes is spot-on, but the problem is that Erikson has created an uber-world with uber-characters pulling off all kinds of crazy uber-shit without paying much attention to logic, consistency or continuity. Which is fun. At the same time crowbarring a discourse on American economic policy (in Midnight Tides) on top of that in a rather unsbutle manner, it's not surprising that some of the fans get confused about WTF it is he's trying to achieve in the series. I'd say thematically that TTH is actually the most successful book in the series because its underlying concepts, namely family, love, lust and desire, fit in with the setting much better.

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I'm not saying it's not a success. I'm saying maybe Erikson feels it's not the success it ought to be, what with him apparently suggesting that everyone but Cook (and himself) are playing it safe (I'll have to read the intro for myself when I get a chance), and so on.

It's the lack subtlety that you mention, plus the fact that he's got so much craziness going on, that makes it hard to pay much mind to the thematic textures of the novel. I'm not quite sure what he was thinking, except that he could have his cake and eat it, too.

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Erikson talking about subtlety is really, really rich. Yes, Erikson, how subtle were the charnel houses in MoI? How subtle is a guy who has a hammer that can literally shatter the world? Rich thematic elements my ass.

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