Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen #8) ★☆☆☆☆

tollthehounds (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Toll the Hounds
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #8
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1299
Format: Digital Edition



I’m really struggling with this.

The Tiste Andii have a big part. Nimander and the young Andii, led by Clip, are on a journey to Black Pearl to pledge allegiance to Anomander Rake. During this journey Clip is possessed by the Fallen god and it is up to Nimander to stop him. Rake himself leaves Black Coral and faces down Hood himself and kills Hood with Dragnipur, thus bringing Hood into the realm of Dragnipur. This allows Hood to bring his armies of the dead against the forces of Chaos within that realm. Rake then faces Traveller, who is revealed as Dassem Ultor, First Sword of the Empire and not only dies in a battle with him, but is killed by Dragnipur as well. This places him in Dragnipur’s realm as well and somehow makes it possible for him to confront Mother Dark and convince her to take her children back.

Karsa Orlong and Samar Dev had been travelling with Traveller and are witnesses.

There is a lot going on in Darujhistan itself. Cutter and others have returned. The remaining Bridge Burners who run a bar, have a contract taken out on them by the Assassins guild. Rallick Nom and Vorcan both recover in the Azath House and get back into the thick of things. Gruntle ends up working for the Trygalle Guild and Mappo takes their services to try to get back to Icarium. Only Mappo and Gruntle get called into the Realm of Dragnipur to help lead the forces of the Dead against Chaos.

The Broken god is also making a play outside of Black Coral to subsume the newly ascended Itkovian, now known as the Redeemer. Using his own corrupted blood, a black addictive druglike sludge, he enslaves the high priestess of the Redeemer and it is up to a former Pannion Domin of all people to defend the Redeemer, who has chosen not to defend himself.

After the battle between Rake and Traveller, and the battle that ensued for control of Dragnipur, Caladan Brood emerged in control of the sword. With the help of the remaining Torrud Cabal, he destroys the sword with Burn’s Hammer, thus releasing all the souls still in existence within the sword.


My Thoughts:

Last time I read this, I called this a bloated piece of crap (to summarize). This time around, I have much more to say.

It IS a bloated piece of crap. At 1300 pages, this easily could have been pared down to 800 or 900 pages simply by removing the monologuing by every character about despair, hopelessness, the pointlessness of existence, etc, etc. I found myself skimming pages at a time and not missing any actual plot points. Erikson becomes as bad as Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged with the monologue by John Gault. Erikson gives full vent to his existential beliefs and in all honesty, it is horrible.

Lots of Christian theology and personal philosophy coming up, so be warned.

Sometimes, books can affect us in deep and profound ways. We always hope that it is for the better but sometimes it isn’t. This time around, it wasn’t for the better. Over the last 10 years I have learned that I am particularly susceptible to the weakness of hopelessness and despair. Whether in a sermon or in a book, if the negative is at the forefront, it will bring my spirit down and affect me physically. I can not live without Hope. That is part of why I am a Christian.

Erikson puts forth that Oblivion is the end of everything. Good, bad, right, wrong, all will end in nothingness. You can only witness existence and hope someone else will witness you as well. This directly cuts across the fact that God Himself is our witness. He has always been and He will always be. Oblivion is not the end of God, even though it is the end of humanity who are not saved by Jesus Christ. Our lives are being watched and recorded by God and we are not alone.

Erikson also writes how everything good is essentially pointless since it is tainted in one way or another. God is not tainted. God is Good. Everything good flows from a Perfect God and it IS good because it aligns with His character. Erikson takes everything that is written on our very hearts as good and drags it through a shit hole and stabs it with a rusty butter knife all in an effort to show how it really isn’t good.

Sadly, it wasn’t until I was at the 80% mark that I realized how this was affecting me. My attitude was horrible about pretty much everything and the world seemed grey and blah even while I was objectively having a good time. I could have taken steps to counteract this much earlier if I had realized what was going on. I do plan on reading either Mark of a Man by Elizabeth Elliot or one of C.S. Lewis’s books immediately after this.

In the future, I will never read this book again. I also plan on waiting an extra cycle before attempting the next Malazan Book of the Fallen. I’m giving this book the “Worst Book of the Year” tag as well to help remind my future self to never even look at this thing again.


bookstooge (Custom)



37 thoughts on “Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen #8) ★☆☆☆☆

  1. Yay, you nailed the synopsis! I mean, I haven’t read the book but I trust your abilities 🙂
    I hate when there are endless pages of monologues! It’s like the author wanted a certain word count and decided to type the most random things to reach it. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, that’s harsh! 🙂 Although Toll the Hounds is not my favorite Malazan novel by far, I definitely don’t remember it being so depressing. I guess it’s time for a re-read! On the other hand, though – Erikson may be blabbering about Oblivion all he wants in Toll the Hounds, but in the end he is anything but a nihilist, with the Broken God arc and whatnot 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All these observations are from this book.
      Erikson can do me a favor and kill himself for all I care right now.

      I do plan reading any new Malazan stuff by Esslemont but I am done with Erikson. Between this, and the unfinished Karkanas series, he destroyed any desire I had to read his stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I still haven’t started on Karkanas – though I like my books dark and brooding, the beginning of The forge of Darkness was too full of grim ruminations even for me 😉 Erikson is no Joyce, and while I admire his Malazan series, I’m afraid after reading Cook I won’t like it as much as I did the first time around.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I’m thankful my first read of Erikson was before my read of Cook’s Black Company. Otherwise I’d be blasting Erikson for the stealing incompetent that he is 😀


  3. I last read a Malazan book (House of Chains) about a year ago and haven’t had the heart to pick up the next one. His complex worldbuilding is impressive, but there’s so much that is deliberately depressing (and whiney) that I don’t see myself continuing the series at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Damn, that sounds bad. Can’t say I’m too excited to read this anytime soon. Like you I’m somewhat tired of the dark, whiny and hopeless fantasy out there. I want some fun in my books too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really enjoyed the review but you’re killing me with your feelings about Erikson and Malaz. I really love this body of work and have it as one of my all time favorites. As much as it pains me, I really appreciate your perspective. Thanks. Brian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And that is the thing, not everyone is going to be as susceptible to the existentialism on display here 😀

      But in 10 years, when I re-re-re-read Gardens of the Moon, I need some solid old reviews to keep me from reading the whole series because I’ve forgotten how it affects me. I can’t do something like this again 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One of the things I really liked about the review is that it gave me a new lens to look through when thinking about the work. One thing everyone can agree on – Malaz is a hard, truly grim world. If you really want hopelessness, read The Kharkanas Trilogy. Cheers. Brian

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, 1300 pages of depressing shit. How did you do it? I don’t ever see myself reading the Malazan books tbh. I read about a third of the first and i guess I enjoyed it but other books came along and I never felt inclined to finish it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pure manly stupidity. I just powered on through, even though it almost killed me 😀

      If that was how you felt about the first book, then I’d say you made the correct call about the whole series. If it’s not enjoyable enough to seek out, then it’s not enjoyable enough period 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I know you set out to reread the series so you want to tackle every book, but I just can’t imagine trying to get through a tome that was already a bloated piece of crap the first time around. Kudos to you for sticking to it, but I probably wouldn’t have been able to make myself do it 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  8. For a 1300 pages re-read, I would suggest the LOTR: it’s not just because it’s a timeless classic, it also offers the hope you are seeking, even in the bleakest of times…
    Not that I’m biased toward Tolkien or anything, of course! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After I’m done Erikson, I might just do that. And look at it from how a philosophy and theology can affect how you think and what you do.
      I’m trying to think of the last time I read LotR….. *check calibre*
      Huh, back in ’12. So by the time I get done with this, it’ll have been 7 years. That seems like a long enough time.

      Thanks for the idea!!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s