Aug 23 2013 12:00pm

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Toll the Hounds, Book Wrap

Steven Erikson Malazan Book of the Fallen Toll the Hounds Welcome to the Malazan Reread of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from readers. In this article, we’ll cover the epilogue of Toll the Hounds (TtH).

A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novel and whole-series themes, narrative arcs that run across the entire series, and foreshadowing. Note: The summary of events will be free of major spoilers and we’re going to try keeping the reader comments the same. A spoiler thread has been set up for outright Malazan spoiler discussion.

Ever generous with his time, Steven will join us at the end as usual for a question and answer session, so look for the posting of that thread here on Tor as you consider what burning questions you have. Afterward, we’ll be taking our regular hiatus to regenerate our batteries for the next tome, Stonewielder.

Amanda’s Wrap

Well now. Toll the Hounds.

I don’t think I’ve felt quite so overwhelmed about a Malazan novel like this since Deadhouse Gates, so I am going to go right out there and say that this is definitely one of my favourites of the series. I thought it was done exceptionally, from the two interlinked storylines with the very different narrative styles, to the fact that this book ties plotlines together from eight other books. I mean, people have quoted back to me hints from Gardens of the Moon that finally come to fruition here.

For me, one of the big successes was the real difference between the Darujhistan storyline and the Tiste Andii journey. I loved that Kruppe narrated us through the tale—his voice is so distinctive and his turn of phrase both prosaic and poetic.

I enjoyed the strong development of Nimander over the course of this novel. When we were first introduced to him, I found him dull as ditchwater, I’ll confess, and confused/confusing to boot. But here he really came into his own and was a force to be reckoned with by the end—even without demonstrating the magic/power that other characters are capable of in the series. I do look forward (with some trepidation) to the accessing of his dragon blood.

There were so many wonderful characters in this novel in a massive convergence—seeing people like Karsa and Traveller together, seeing the Noms, Hood facing Anomander Rake, the fight between Kallor and Spinnock Durav. And who could forget the charge of the mules, with Kruppe and Iskaral Pust facing each other down?

What I love most about these books—and this has become an all-enduring love as I’ve read further into this world—is the sheer challenge. I love the fact that, on this first read, I’m so clearly missing things that you guys who have already been through the series are catching. I know already that I will be reading this series again. (And that next time it’ll be the GORGEOUS Subterranean Press copies which I am currently collecting!)

There are layers and layers and layers (much like Shrek’s onion/parfait) and the reward of that hard work is to have events now mean so damn much. Like Harllo. Without knowing about the events that occurred with Stonny, Harllo’s story through this book wouldn’t have the impact it does. The same with Crokus/Cutter and his final decision to leave Darujhistan.

Basically, I feel as though this one book is a jigsaw of pieces fit cunningly together, while also being the small part of a much larger picture. And I commend the author who is managing to keep it all together. I approve. Erikson is a top, top writer.

Bill’s Wrap

So. Toll the Hounds.

I confess, it’s so long between books, and I like all of these books so much, that it is difficult for me to get a sense of where each might rank in comparison to the others. It tends toward the “this is one of my favorites, no, this is one of my favorites” sort of thing. But TtH is one of my favorites. No really. Here are just a few reasons, and I’ll cover more in back and forth in comments I’m sure.

Kruppe’s Voice Part One:
I know Kruppe’s language evokes differing responses from readers. I’m a huge fan of it myself. I revel in his flights of language in this book, his zoom-out views of the city, his personal asides and interludes, his poetry and consider many of Kruppe’s lines in TtH the best written in the entire series language-wise. I also think his poetry—elegiac as it often is, is extremely well-matched to this particular novel, which has at its core so much emphasis on redemption, compassion, and sacrifice.

Kruppe’s Voice Part Two:
Beyond Kruppe’s heightened language, I’m also a fan of his few metafictional moments, those times where he speaks directly (or indirectly but still we get it) to narrative, to story-telling. I’m generally a sucker for meta.

So much of this book’s ending is set-up by what comes before, with generally a nice balance between subtle hints and not-so-subtle, with most of the not-so-subtle ones coming as one progresses, so they serve to act almost less as foreshadowing (because we get it at that point) as much as to lend the novel a sense of inevitable tragedy (this is not going to end well for so-and-so) or suspense (when will X be revealed directly?). I’m thinking here, to give just a few examples, of Rake’s death, Mother Dark’s reveal, Endest’s death, and others. Even Orfantal’s end gets a nod, as in Chapter Six Kallor thinks of being followed by Korlat and Orfantal and immediately thinks “Eh, I’ve killed a few dragons in my day...” Good foreshadowing is tough to do, tiptoeing that line between overly obtuse and way too obvious. I think TtH generally does a great job throughout.

Theme Part One: Redemption
I like themes. I like when they thread throughout a work and give us a structure or a point of focus. It’s no stretch to come up with Redemption as a major theme here, since we have a god called the Redeemer. But even a cursory recall brings up so many characters in search of (even if they don’t know it yet) redemption. A partial list:

  • Seerdomin—redemption for his past in the Pannion
  • Monkrat—redemption for what’s happened in the pilgrims’ camp
  • Rake—redemption for his people and possibly for his past mistakes
  • Murillio—redemption for how he’s lived his life
  • Stonny—redemption for her abandonment of Harllo
  • Karsa—redemption for how his daughters came to be

So many characters trying to atone for past errors/actions, trying to move on to a different way of being. And so many varied results, some redeemed into a new life, some redeemed but dead (some redeemed by death).

Theme Part One Subset A: Redemption and Vengeance
And what about those who seek vengeance as a means of putting the past behind them? Those who seek to redeem themselves via “justice” or retribution? Kadaspala. Hoisted by his own godly petard. Traveller—driven by vengeance and wielding Vengeance—“broken.” Clip—“possessed” by the idea of vengeance—loses himself, loses a finger. All three focused on themselves, on their desires, their grievances—in contrast to Rake, who “does for others.” Seerdomin, who fights for the Redeemer, for his friend Spinnock. Murillio who fights for Harllo/Stonny. Some, like Rake, are mostly selfless at the start. Others, like Murillio, are forced out of their self-focused nature by events. Some, like Monkrat, are forcibly dragged out of it.

All that said, I wish I had a better sense of the idea of redemption as presented by Itkovian at the very end, his epiphany caused by Rake’s actions, because I’m a bit at sea on just what he “gets” there.

Theme Part Two: The Past is never Dead
Or it is dead, but it can still talk and walk around. The redemption theme obviously plays into this, with the whole atone for past acts/errors thing. But we see this idea in so many other ways:

  • The dead in Dragnipur.
  • The ghosts in K’rul’s Bar.
  • Endest haunted by his flashback memories.
  • Challice and Cutter’s past.
  • Rake chained to his dead.
  • Rallick, Torvald, and Vorcan returned from “the dead.”
  • Humble Measure trying to bring back the past in the form of the Tyrant (or “a” Tyrant). Dev’ad Anan Tol.
  • The remnant of Bellurdan that forms the Dying God.
  • The legacy of millennia ago when Mother Dark turned aside.
  • Traveller.
  • Ruins.

The past can’t be escaped in this world, only ridden on into the future. Set-ups. I won’t say much about this for obvious reasons, but:

  • Shadowthrone et. al. have a “plan”
  • Draconus and others are out of Dragnipur
  • Apsal’ara is free
  • Mappo is trying to catch up to Icarium
  • Paran is in “a mess” somewhere
  • The Tyrant is coming! The Tyrant is coming!
  • Gods of war are rising/being ridden to
  • Forkrul Assail get mentioned a few times

Can you say “Convergence”? I mean, seriously. Holy crap.

  • Darujhistan: Rake. Hood. Traveller. Karsa. Hounds of Shadow. Hounds of Light. Envy. Spite. Kruppe. Pust. Vorcan. Rallick.
  • Dragnipur: Draconus. Whiskeyjack. Seguleh Second.
  • Black Coral: Mother Dark. Clip. Nimander. Dying God. Redeemer. Super-Seerdomin.


  • The chains image that runs throughout the novel (and the series) and the way it gets turned from its usual aspect and into this idea of bound to one another
  • Challice’s moon ball
  • The march of the dead, the fight of the dead vs. chaos
  • Rake’s slow dissolve
  • Hood’s manifestation

Moving moments:

  • Harllo and Bainsk’s city
  • Endest and Rake, Endest and Mother Dark
  • Mallet
  • Pearl
  • Rake’s slow dissolve
  • Hood refusing to let the inspector die
  • Jaghut Humor (nuff said)
  • Mule charges
  • Cotillion. Always Cotillion.

Amanda Rutter is the editor of Strange Chemistry books, sister imprint to Angry Robot.

Bill Capossere writes short stories and essays, plays ultimate frisbee, teaches as an adjunct English instructor at several local colleges, and writes SF/F reviews for

Brian Carlson
1. images8dream
I find the idea of redemption somewhat hard to get a handle on without a specific religious setting. In Christianity, it is obviously Christ redeeming original sin. In Buddhism or Hinduism, redemption might be something like getting out of the cycle of rebirth, or perhaps moving up in the chain of being after being cast down. Clearly the idea is important; it pops up in superhero comics, myths, religion, novels, etc. But like Bill said, Itkovian's statements at the end don't really shed any light on what it means to be redeemed. It also seems like there are various kinds of redemption at work, such as moral redemption, where a person or character makes up for past immoral behavior, and spiritual redemption, which is less clear to me (outside of a specific religious tradition). I think what makes moral redemption interesting is not that we have judged someone redeemed after past mistakes, but that the person who is "redeemed" feels it. So redemption might be something that has to be given to one's self. This of course means that people can believe themselves to be falsley redeemed, but I think that fits with human experience.
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
Each time I read Toll the Hounds I like it more. There is everything that Amanda & Bill just mentioned. (Ditto) But, also, with this reading SE contributed a whole new depth with his really appreciated and heartfelt rememberances of the events that were occuring in his life as he wrote this and the importance of the theme of the relationship of thinking beings to the world in which they exist.
In Toll the Hounds we see the birth of gods, gods at the start of their journey, gods who come to an end and gods who reemerge.
Lots of gods, but most of all, we see people and how they carry on in the face of well, everything. From Rake's sacrifice to Harllo's journey, we see a commentary upon the nature of interconnectedness Of redemption, compassion and in the face of chaos.
3. Vanye
I think , and it's muddy to me as well, that Itkovians' Redemption might be better named Acceptance. The Redemption he offers doesn't forgive or forget, He just accepts that this is who and what you are.
No judgmenet made on your previous choices, just acceptance that those choices are made, but there are future choices to make in the future as well. You can be different from this point forth *if you choose to be different*.

I'm not sure that's where Steven was going with this, but it's what I've kind of come up with.
Craig Garrett
4. clgarret
Add Murillio's death to the list of Moving moments. That one crushed me, maybe because it felt a little closer to my personal circumstance ;) To me that had far more impact than Rake's death or any since Baudin - with his so tragic dying words.
Emiel R
5. Capetown
Any ideas on why Steven has described TtH as containing the Cypher for the whole series?
Nadine L.
6. travyl
I overall liked TdH, though I thought the philosophical journey of Nimander and Iktovian a little bit too long winded.

I still have some questions plot-wise:
1. In the pre-last thread someone already asked why converge at Daruhijistan - and I have wondered as well. For this book the important thing happening is (in) Dragnipur, so I don't see why Rake and Hood had to meet in Daruhististan instead of Black Coral? (Except for the PLOT to get ONE huge convergence of all characters going there).
(* Edited to add the blue part above, because without it made no sense, as Nisheet made me aware of @9.)

2. in Chapter 12, Kallor did say he is after a throne. And by the Epilogue, Daruhijistan is still expecting a tyrant to their (?) throne. So why has Spinnock sucessfully stalled Kallor, as it seems to be implied? Dragnipur can't have been the reason for Kallor to go there, right?
George A
7. Kulp
You can definitely tell that SE was dealing with his own grief while writing this book. Loss of any kind forces you to look at things differently and I felt that in his writing throughout TtH. I wonder how much of the plot (if any) was influenced by how he struggled with losing his father. I know that a lot of authors talk about the struggle they have making their reader feel genuine emotions, I am curious if any of the deaths in this book were Erikson's attempts at making the reader feel a small piece of what he felt.

I'm with @4 clgarret, I think Murillio's death had the most impact on me overall. Hood and Rake were more shocking, but I felt more for Murillio and by extension, Harllo.

This was my first time through and I don't think that overall TtH is one of my favorite Malazan books. I've heard that a lot of people feel the same until they reread it later, at which point they feel the exact opposite. I will say however that this was by far my favorite climax to any of SE's books so far.
8. aaronthere
This novel came across as a slow and perhaps arduous read the first time through for me, until the climax hit, then all of those pages of build up seemed justified and then some. I think this is why this book was so much better the second time through. You know where it is going and you can really savor all of the hints and foreshadowing.

I think Erickson took a risk with this book, as it is the first in the series that doesn't have a very obliquely stated war or battle to keep the reader turning the pages to get to. I definitely wasn't sure where it was going, and it seems like SE even intentionally lulls you into a sense of stasis for a 1000 or so pages until he really wallops you! (a great comparison would be the film Audition, which director Miike intentionally makes uneventful so that the shocking ending hits that much harder)

The novel, to me, is more of a protrait of a city, and I would even go so far as to say that Darujistan is the most important character in this book. I feel like SE explores a more literary terrain, getting into the daily lives of the city's citizens and painting a picture.

Finally, on my reread of this book, it also struck me more, how much the ending feels like the climax of the entire malazan series. Without getting too spoilery, I really was naive in expecting him to outdo this TYPE of ending with Dust of Dreams and Crippled God. And I think my enjoyment of the final two books in this series the second time through will be heightened without that expectation. I mean, fucking everyone was there at the end here! Whiskeyjack, Rake, Brood, Kallor, Pust, Kruppe, the Hounds... I think SE was wise to try a different tack to end the series as a whole, as anything more converge-y than this could have handily stepped into parody.
Nisheeth Pandey
9. Nisheeth
@6, travyl:
1) Just a nit-pick, Hood and Rake met in Darujhistan and not in Black Coral. Though, the question is, couldn't they have met in Black Coral. I think Hoods mere presence would have given the Dying god a stop.

2) I am not sure I am right, but this is how I understood it:
Kallor is trying to become the King in Chains. Spinnock delayed him enough for the convergence in Darujhistan to end, which would somehow help him get the throne. Also, during that time, Skinner became the King in chains.
Joe Long
10. Karsa
@9 - I think Kallor was delayed so that he wouldn't get Dranipur after Rake was killed. *shudder* just thinking about that.
Nadine L.
11. travyl
Nisheeth 9 - uups, I changed my question so many time, until it finally made no sense anymore. I did want to ask, why they couldn't meet at Black Coral instead of Daruhijistan, as you rightly concluded :)

Karsa @10. Kallor was delayed to not get Dragnipur, but Dragnipur must have been only a nice "take the opportunity if it occurs" thing and not the reason why he so determinedly walked towards Daruhististan in the first place. This then doesn't explain why he sits seemingly despondenty in the tavern as Rake's body is laid to rest. Shouldn't he pursue whatever he firstly intentended to do upon reaching Daruhististan and taking whatever throne he's after?

Of course my question could be really silly, if Kallor does just that after a sip of ale in the books to come, which I haven't finished reading yet.
Joe Long
12. Karsa
why does Rake care if Kalor gets the throne of chains? in the book it says
'High King', he whispered, 'all you ever wanted was a throne. But trust me, you don't want Rake's. No, proud warrior, that one you wound not want. I think, maybe, you just realized that.'
What house of Rake's is Spinnock talking about. Surely not House of Dark...

also, Kallor was already associated with the House of Chains (from RotCG), so why would Rake spend Sinnock to stop a "promotion" within the house? They wanted him out of Durijistan so he'd be out of play once Dassem killed Rake...but this might be a good question for the Q&A with Steven.
karl oswald
13. Toster
i believe rake makes darujhistan the site of the convergence because he charges baruk with the destruction of dragnipur. yes, brood is there because he carries the hammer and was also rakes ally, but it's baruk trying to chivvy him along to do the deed and brood refusing.

there's likely other reasons, maybe having to do with not causing an even bigger sh*t-storm than actually occured by trying to mash the convergence in coral and the convergence into darujhistan into one city. black coral would probably have been leveled.
Bill Stusser
14. billiam
Well, I've caught up with the reread just in time for the wrap up of TtH. I'm probably going to be the least popular person in the comments after this but here it goes.

I really didn't like this book. I can say, with out any doubt what so ever, that this was, in my opinion, the worst of TMBotF that I've read. I disliked it even more than Deadhouse Gates, my previously least liked book in the series and a book that almost made me quit reading the series entirely. It took me about three months after DG before I picked up MoI. Having said that, after reading TtH I don't know if I want to read the last two books now. I might be done with TMBotF.

This book could have easily been 200 pages shorter if SE (or an editor) had cut out all the unnecessary dialogue. And I'm not even talking about taking out any of the individual storylines, I'm talking about the meandering, philosophical bullshit. I kept thinking to myself, stop talking out of your ass Steven and get on with the story already!

I hate the decission to write this book in Kruppe's voice. I found his over use of adjectives and diarrhea of the mouth to be annoying to say the least. Not only that but there is also the small problem, for me at least, that there is no way for Kruppe to even know about some of the things he is revealing in this story he is telling. Unless, of course, he is just assuming what all these different characters were thinking during their adventures (because we were inside their heads while in the different POVs), and if so, then how can we even know that any of this even happened like he tells us? Talk about unreliable narration!

And some of the writing was just clumsy. SE uses way too many modern phrases through out the story. I know this doesn't bother some readers but it always throws me out of the story. Thing like game over or when the Second says 'Skinner! I'm coming for you! But first, these guys...'.

As for the whole convergence? Meh. Hood dying? Meh. Rake dying? Meh. Its not like death is permanent in this story. By the end of the book none of them are dead anyways. Draconus is back, Hood is back, Anomander is reunited with Mother Dark. Am I the only one who finds the whole thing unnecessaryly convoluted. Why did Rake need to kill Hood in Darujhistan? Just so we could have everthing happen in the same place at the end of the book?

Why did Rake need Traveller to kill him? Just so we could have a big ass battle between two of the BAMFs in the series?

Why did Rake even need to kill Hood? Seems to me that Rake could have just killed a bunch of peeps (they would all be released after the sword is destroyed after all) to keep the wagon far ahead of the pursuing chaos and then Dragnipur himself to get inside the sword's warren so he could release KG from the wagon. That way he wouldn't have even needed the army of the dead to hold off the army of chaos.

Whatever. Like I said, I don't know if I will finish the series now. Maybe in a couple months time the sour taste this book left in my mouth will be gone and I'll be curious enough about how the series ends to read the last two books. We'll see.
Joe Long
15. Karsa
@Billiam - I can't tell what is more suprising to me. That you didn't like Deadhouse Gates or that you read all the way through 8 books and didn't care that Hood and Rake died (the latter clearly forever, despite what you wrote above). Perhaps this is not the right kind of books for you...
Steven Halter
16. stevenhalter
First, recall that Shadowthrone and Cotillion have a plan. They have been steering Traveller and the others. Underlying or interweaving with all of the reasons, recall that power draws power.
Why Darujhistan? Recall that Hood needed to be manifest so that Rake could kill him. In order for the Lord of Death to manifest, you need deaths. Darujhistan is the largest city around. Also, Brood is already there and his hammer will be needed to break Dragnipur. Also, Rake does not want these events to happen in Black Coral as if things work, that is where Mother Dark will be drawn.
Why does Hood need to be killed by Rake with Dragnipur? Hood has to be drawn into Dragnipur so that he can summon the Army of the Dead there to fight Chaos.
Why are the Hounds of Shadow there? To contribute to the deaths and to help guard Dragnipur in the crucial period just after Rake is killed.
Why is Karsa there? He will need to be there later--recall, he is told to hang around to kill a god and he will also be useful as a guard.
Why does Traveller have to kill Rake? Traveller is probably the only person with even a shadow of a hope of killing Rake in a sword duel. I suspect as others have said that Rake doesn't want to just kill himself outright as that would not help the Tiste morale and also, Shadowthrone and Cotillion would like Traveller to end his obsessed vengence with Hood--kind of a shock therapy.
Nisheeth Pandey
17. Nisheeth
@16, stevenhalter:
That's a great reason for the convergence to take place in Darujhistan.

Though that does make me wonder, why didn't he set it up so that there would be trust worthy people around him, to guard Dragnipur, when he fell? Like, why did Baruk and Brood leave to get the sword after his death, and were not close to it already?
Nancy Hills
18. Grieve
(Sorry for lenght of post but...)

Re why Darujhistan instead of Black Coral? All the stuff that has been mentioned above and I think there are multiple reasons. Perhaps because The Dying God and was coming to Black Coral and that would have seriously compromised things. Not to mention the mess he was already causing. Further, Baruk and his allies are in Darujhistan and could facilitate the destruction of Dragnipur.

Also, they would have been caught in Kurlaid Gulain when it descended (or ascended). Silanah might not have stood by while Rake is killed in front of her, not to mention the reaction of the Tiste Andii. One thing to know it, another to see it.

There are many focii in Darujhistan that aren't in Black Coral, including an Azath House, many temples including those of Elder Gods and retired Malazans. I just think it is a place of great convergence in many ways and therefore much more suitable for something that required the kind of energy and magic it did.

@Bill (the Wrap) - Your list of those redeemed is interesting and I know you said it was a partial list, but I think you missed two very big players in the series who were "redeemed" or found their way out of the traps of their own making - Mother Dark and Draconus.

Mother Dark certainly feels she needs redemption. She tells Nimander while pulling him along:

"Will you defend me, Nimander? I do not deserve it. My errors are legion. My hurt I made into your curse, a curse upon every one of you. But we are past apologies. We stand in the dust of what's done."

Draconus, well, he thinks about his "crimes" and past cruelty all the time. He certainly feels guilty. (It would be interesting to see him and Mother Dark face each other again. Wonder if he still loves her?)

There are a lot of children "redeeming" their parents or others in this book, one way of another. Nimander/Anomander, Anomander/Mother Dark, Harllo/Stonny/his father/Murillo, Chaur/Barathol, Two Daughters/Karsa and you can include the children/Spindle and Monkrat. (Note that Envy/Spite/Draconus are not on that list.)

Why Nimander and Rake? Because if Nimander hadn't brought Aranatha,hadn't started to fight for her, she might not have had the courage tostep out to face the Dying God and all would have been for naught.

Your wrap-up of Vengeance and Redemption was excellent and may have pinpointed the Cypher of the series.

@billiam - I think your dislike of Kruppe's 19th century style of telling a story and of the philosophizing may have made you miss some things. Kruppe may know these things because he is a Magic Man. One of the first things you do when you meet him in GotM is travel with him in his dreams, where he chit chats with Elders Gods and other mythical personages. I do think in one book it is made rather clear he is the emmissary of one of the Elder Gods - K'rul, I believe. K'rul is a rather powerful entity. Also, Rake would have had to kill thousands upon thousands to match the army Hood could bring. And those that died there, died permanently. Only a very few like Draconus were released when the sword was shattered and they had to be gods. A very small number such as Toc were sent out with tasks.

It's ok not to like the style. Liking a writing style is like liking a particular style of food. It is very individual. I like Erikson's rich, poetic writing. You don't. I can't eat spicy hot food. Others love it. Doesn't mean I'm wrong or they are right. It also happens that Erikson was working out something personal that resonates with me. It didn't with you. That is also ok.

I may post again in this Book Wrap. If not, I will see you all on the other side of Stonewielder. I can't read that right now. Thank you for your literate and intelligent conversation.
Nancy Hills
19. Grieve
Woops. Kurald Galain. I meant to look that up before posting and forgot.
Gerd K
20. Kah-thurak
@17 Nishbeeth
As Grieve mentioned with Silanah, it is not clear how Brood would have reacted to someone attacking Rake. If he could have endured just letting it happen. And it seems that the Hounds of Shadow were there just for that purpose - the arrival of the Hounds of Light negating them might not have been foreseen.
Bill Capossere
21. Billcap

As Grieve says, I can’t argue with you re the style, as one’s response to that is wholly subjective (some love Hemingway, some love Faulkner, many in each camp hate the other).

But I do think you’re misreading some of the response to the deaths, or “deaths” in the book. For instance, Hood’s death isn’t a wow moment because you think he is “sob sob dead.” It’s a wow moment because a) one doesn’t expect the God of Death to get killed, sort of by nature b) it happens so incredibly abruptly “I’ve reconsidered wham”, and a major player on this world’s field has been suddenly, shockingly removed and thrown into the maelstrom of another world. Whether it is permanent or not, from my viewpoint, doesn’t really affect the impact of that moment (not to mention the power of the buildup to it—with the manifestation, the allowing the guardsman to live, the deaths we see in the city). As for Draconus, I’m not sure of your complaint that he’s back, as I don’t think anyone reads his “death” (however long ago that was) was anything major or powerful in this series (it may be in the prequel). With regard to Rake, well, reunification with Mother Dark is a nice state of being for him, but it doesn’t do much for his physical or personal interaction with characters in this world. So again, a major (and hugely popular) character has been removed from the field which would seem to evoke a strong response, regardless of the Mother Dark thing (similar to how “he’s in a better place” or “she’s with God now” doesn’t really do much to assuage the emotional response of those left behind when someone dies). As another example, Whiskeyjack is gone but really isn’t. Does that mute the response to the reader in terms of we still get to read about him? Yep. Does it however mute the response to the responses of those who mourn his death and miss him, as in Korlat and the Bridgeburners? Nope. So it’s a layered impact rather than the usual black and white one involving alive-dead. If you want to make a larger case that too often deaths are overturned, that might be a different discussion and I’d say an excellent one to have once we near the end of this series.

As for killing Hood, the difference between a “few peeps” and all those who have died over millennia is, well, let’s just call it “significant”

I think you raise some other good points and I’ll try to respond to those (others I note have), but we’re now taking off for some Frisbee golf on a gorgeous day . . .

Just a quick note on continuing. You won’t get the Kruppe voice anymore to this extent so you’re safe on that (though I can see there might be a storyline you might not enjoy at all coming up). As for the dead/not-dead, that one I’ll leave alone so as to not spoil things . . .
Nancy Hills
22. Grieve
I wanted to mention that I noticed Mother Dark also said that she did not think "enough of her could reach through" to help him fight the Dying God, meaning she was still trapped at the gate. That is when Dragnipur is weakened. She definitely at the gate, the wagon. Kadaspala refers to her looking up at Anomander from the warren gate. That brings up the question if she was trapped and unable to respond.

I do think it is more than just style that make people like one writer more than others. What I like about Erikson is that, among other things, is that these events, such as Rake killing Hood and Rake "dying" aren't just twists in a plot, they are imbued with a meaning, something more than "gotcha" or a gossipy, daytime drama moment. It isn't just a story, but a way to illustrate and talk about bigger things. Ya, I can start skipping over some of the philosophizing (sorry), but I am glad it is there, it is the purpose to the story rather than being just " 'Dallas' With Dragons" sopa opera. I certainly can enjoy those stories, just entertainment is good and even necessary, but I need this kind of storytelling to thrive. It doesn't hurt that I usually agree with his philosohpies. TtH, in the end, touched me because of what it was exploring, though I think I am further down the road than he is on this one. My username is no accident.

It may be, billiam, you are just in need to a straight forward, well-written yarn right now and MBotF is not the right kind of story for you.
Darren Kuik
23. djk1978
Well, I'll just add that if you don't like the philosophy much you probably will not like Dust of Dreams much either. It's pretty extensive there.

I do think it's a shame that people are dropping out of the re-read of Stonewielder by the way. I realize it's utterly different from Erikson but I'd like people to hang in there even if they aren't as big fans of Esslemont as they are of Erikson. There's a lot to like about Stonewielder.

As for Toll the Hounds, well put simply while it's not totally my favorite book of the series, the last 3 chapters contain many of my favorite scenes of the series. We often talk about cinematic movie moments. I do think however, that no movie could bring to life the pictures we envision. In the end they would fail to capture what we think they ought to. MBotF is too big for movies.
24. Raven728
Personally, I didn't enjoy the Kruppe narration. I like Kruppe as a character; I don't think that SE shouldn't have done it, or that he failed to do it well, but I found myself missing SE's narrative voice. It felt to me as if there was an unneccessary extra layer between the reader and SE. I wonder if that was a conscious or unconscious decision on his part? Maybe he felt at the time that he was too close personally to the story and needed to put some distance in between?

Unfortunately, the whole redemption theme just slipped right by me. The idea, in any fictional medium, of characters seeking and receiving (or not) redemption just doesn't interest me in the least. I suppose it's because redemption is tied in with the concept of sin, and I'm an atheist.

Having said all that, I had planned to wait a month before starting Stonewielder so that I could read a few other books on my list but ended up caving in and starting SW after only a week. I just can't seem to do without the Malazan world for too long.
25. duhr
I really wasn't a huge fan of Stonewielder. There seemed to be some storylines that didn't go anywhere, and it's connections to the last MBotF novels are small enough that I would have recommended skipping it to read Dust of Dreams and The Crippled God.

I think it's better written than Return of the Crimson Guard, but Return of the Crimson Guard at least had some fun fights with a lot of characters we knew or were interested in from earlier books.
Nancy Hills
26. Grieve
My skipping the Reread of Stonewielder is because of personal time to read right now and because I haven't read any of Esselmont's works yet. It is probably not a good thing to start with one of the last books.

I do think it is hard to jump to a book that takes everyone in a different direction when you are so close to the end of the series. I'm not sure that is fair to Esslemont. People are impatient to finish. Jumping back and forth like that also is jarring style-wise. I would rather read Esslemont's works all as one piece, as its own set of stories told in the same voice. One set of stories is going to suffer because of reveals, but MBotF is the main through line, so it will be Esslemont's in my case.
George A
27. Kulp

I don't think you'd miss a whole lot if you read Stoneweilder right now. I've only read NoK, RotCG, and SW and I'd say they are only loosely related to each other. SW has a couple characters from RotCG but it really is its own separate story apart from the others. I don't think it would be a problem if you stuck with the reread.

As for your points about the main series, I actually think you're right. It is a bit jarring to jump between the two authors, especially at this late point in the series. That being said I wouldn't stop reading just because we are reading Esslemont for a little while before finishing off the main series.
28. worrywort
There are definitely storylines that need to be read in order re: ICE's novels. They're not really that independent of each other when you get down to it.
Steven Halter
29. stevenhalter
worrywort@24:I concur. (Edit: But I misunderstood, see below). There are key echos and sometimes much more than echos.
George A
30. Kulp
@28 and @29

Ok, there are echos. But do you think that echos are enough of a reason not to read SW with us?
Steven Halter
31. stevenhalter
Kulp@30:The part I was concuring with is to read SW next. The ICE and SE storylines are not independent of one another--they add to each other. I won't be missing any books.
32. worrywort
@stevenhalter, if you thought I meant that ICE's books echo in strong ways with SE (and vice versa) so the two series should be integrated, I'm afraid that's not what I meant. I was saying one should not skip around ICE's books because they have a definitive order with linear storylines from one book to the next, despite some disjointed "main story" focus (for example, Kiska's whole storyline). So it would be a mistake to make SW your first ICE book, IMO.

Now I do agree with you in general that integration is ideal, but since it's already too late, so to speak, for Grieve to do that, I would not recommend that Grieve skips the first two ICE books just to join the reread. I would perhaps urge a rush through NoK and RotCG during the break just for the sake of catching up, but unfortunately my tyranny reaches not far beyond my doorstep.
Tricia Irish
33. Tektonica
Personally, I find skipping from SE to ICE very jarring...even if the story lines are tangential. The styles are so different and really, the characters are doing mostly different things.

I would've preferred to have read ICE all together after the MBotF and appreciated them for their own stories and style, and loved the "ah-ha" moments when gaps are filled in.

I find the pause between SE's books, especially here at the end, when so many threads are coming together, very discombobulating.
Steven Halter
34. stevenhalter
Worrywort@32:Ah, then I actually still mostly concur. ICE's books do present a mostly linear storyline and starting with SW would be a bad idea. Grieve--Definitely, Go back and read the other two. There is important stuff in there as well as being fun.
I like the interleaving that we are doing as I've never read them all in this order. I don't mind the waits for SE--I had to wait longer the first time after all.
35. aaronthere
i want to add to the please read ICE crew if I may... I know there are some objections to ICE from many, but all of those reasons withstanding, you should still consider reading SW and his two pervious books because...

1) Esselmont is actually a good writer. his style IS different from Erickson's, but sometimes in ways that are better. His vision isn't as dark, so you don't get a whole lot of characters brooding, scowling and growling all the time. Kinda refreshing...

2) With the wrap up and break, you'd actually have time to read NoK and RotCG before we started SW pretty easily, so if you haven't read any of them, now is actually a great time to do it...

3) if you are doing a reread and only read the SE books the first time through, this is also great reason to add some more backround to the history within the books. NoK recounts one of the biggest events in Malazan history, and RotCG has some very very important information that effects one's perception of events throughout the rest of the series...

4) Sure you'd be skipping to other parts of the story, but SE's novels are ALL ABOUT skipping around to different storylines, and TtH actually is an intermission of sorts from the Tavore storyline anyway... so not a convincing argument not to read SW.

5) finally, SW is Esselmont's best book as many have stated previously.

I think the only good reasons not to read the ICE books now would be that you read them previously and hated them, or you are reading the series for the first time through, and only want to read the 10 book series this time around.

just my two cents. about 100 pages from the end of SW and I'm really digging it.
Bill Capossere
36. Billcap
Hi all, Just a note to let you know our first Stonewielder post will be on the 18th--see you then!

Michael Friedman
37. lycophidion
@Bill - (yes a year late, but...):
"...Traveller—driven by vengeance and wielding Vengeance—“broken”..."

There's something missing, here. Shadowthrone and Cotillion's manipulation. I'm not sure what went on there, but it seems to me that Traveller was pushed into that confrontation.

I think perhaps Monkrat gives the strongest idea of how Erikson looks at redemption. Also remember the interplay of redemption and -- what was it? -- atonement or absolution, I think. Recall the dialogue on this, I think with Seerdomin and someone else.

There's also the issue of Kallor's redemption. Was he? Has he earned the change in perspective that Erikson is granting him? My first thought was to compare him with Jaime Lannister in Song of Ice and Fire. Lannister was pretty much in the same category of SOB as Kallor. What brought him redemption was suffering which forced him to step into his victims' shoes, and to experience compassion. What about Kallor?

Now not clear on why Hood had to die. The army of the dead was already in Dragnipur when Hood was killed!

@Raven728: "I suppose it's because redemption is tied in with the concept of sin, and I'm an atheist." I don't agree with that. I'm also an atheist, and I think there is an utterly human side to redemption that is based on our nature as conscious and social beings. That, I think, is partly what Monkrat was expressing. Redemption is inside, and also social, that is, within the purview of the "vox populii". One could say that Monkrat demonstrates that redemption/atonement dichotamy brought up earlier in the book is a false one. Or rather, they are two sides of the same coin.
Kellen Periwinkle
38. Mithrandir42
I know this is late by well over a year, but I had to comment on something it seems no one else here really picked up on, in terms of theme. Likely no one will respond to this but I just finished the book and felt the need to get this out.

In addition to the themes mentioned above, I would say that one of the book's (and the series's) major ideas is the danger/folly of living a life of certainty, despite the wonderful bliss living that way can bring.

One can see this in the ox, which was presented as a symbol of certainty in defiance of the chaos of life. The ox knows its purpose, to carry the dead, those who know now the ultimate certainty, or to carry someone from one place to another, but always someone in danger (Murillio, whom the ox carried to his death, or Chaur, when he was danger of dying). Later, when the Hounds threw Darujhistan into chaos, the the ox lost its certainty, and ran frantically around.

We see this as well with Dragnipur. The Chained's lives have been narrowed down to a single purpose, but this drives them insane. They resist the Chaos that is inevitably going to descend upon them, but eventually it arrives. In the end, the armies of the dead fight the Chaos, but all but a few cannot resist it, and Chaos can only be diverted by Rake reuniting the Tiste Andii with Kurald Galain.

Gorlas Vidikas, who lived in certainty of his success and of his supremacy, is killed as a result.

There is always tragedy surrounding Chaur, a man who lives a broken life, misunderstood, simple as a child.

The whole series is in many ways about people trying to resist the Chaos that we all know is a fact of life. Kruppe makes countless references to this idea.

Just thought this was worth pointing out for anyone like me who is reading these posts while reading the series, and I was surprised it hadn't been commented on before.

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