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 Tor.com 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.
We’ll be doing our whole-book wrap up on Friday. 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.
As Nimander watches Spinnock walk to find Salind (Nimander commanded him to go to his love), he tells Skintick it should be Spinnock or Korlat on the throne rather than himself. Skintick says the Andii will follow Nimander because Rake’s “blood courses strong within you,” and also that Nimander made a lot of friends with his command to Spinnock. They discuss the others: Nenanda is healing, Clip is alive and likely to be a pain in the future, Aranatha is dead, Silanah has disappeared, Seerdomin is having a barrow built for his bones at the foot of the Redeemer’s tomb. Skintick notes Nimander’s seeming high interest in the Redeemer, but Nimander just smiles and leaves.
A group gathers at Baruk’s to watch as (and ensure that) Brood breaks Dragnipur: Baruk, Derudan, Vorcan/Lady Varada, Crone. Baruk thinks how people in the city are working to awaken one of the old Tyrants and the three remaining T’orrud Cabal fear the results. Brood brings his hammer down on the sword.
After visiting Rake’s grave, Envy returns to find Fisher in her garden. He asks what happened and she replies, “Caladan Brood… And there’s more… My father. He’s back.”
We return to the start at Kruppe’s fire and Fisher and K’rul witness Kruppe dance, as “The tale is spun. Spun out.”
After that almost hopeful ending to the last chapter, I pretty much dreaded opening up the Epilogue! I just sensed that we would be given the more ambiguous ending that Erikson loves…
This last look at Nimander just shows how very far his character has progressed in this novel. I mean, I was so irritated by his attitude and demeanour prior to this, but now I have so much respect for him! He’ll never be an adequate replacement for Anomander Rake, obviously, but “his blood courses strong within” him. I love the idea of Nimander getting all irritated and impatient with Spinnock Durav, who faced down Kallor for a whole night and Spinnock then doing what he’s told.
I’m disappointed that Clip survived, and I have this sense of foreboding that he really will be a thorn in Nimander’s side in the future. I could wish that he had died nice and neatly.
And then a little pain at the idea that Aranatha—Mother Dark’s vessel for so long—has truly gone. We never really knew her.
Hmm, I’m wondering what would happen if Nimander did awaken T’iam’s blood—since it has been mentioned explicitly here, I’m thinking we might see it in future novels. (Although, with a shock, I realise that there are really very few books left! )
And here is just a little hint as to Nimander’s move forward into responsibility and leadership: “Nimander reminded himself that he would have to send a crew out there, to see if they needed any help.”
I guess this snippet shows what might be coming to pass in future novels: “There were servants hidden in the city, and they were even now at work. To bring about a fell return, to awaken one of the Tyrants of old.”
The breaking of Dragnipur and the release of such persons as Draconus into the world again makes me tremble, to be honest.
This trembling only increases when Lady Envy says: “My father. He’s back.” If any line deserved a DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNN, it would definitely be that one!
The thought of K’rul weeping… What a way to end this book. Here is the bittersweet ending I’m much more used to…
I know what you mean Amanda about the reader worrying over what is coming in this epilogue, given that swirl of compassion and warmth and happiness we saw at the end of the last chapter. But perhaps to our surprise, we continue the meeting of lovers as we get that image of Spinnock heading out to meet Salind. And I love that to do so, as he puts his old life behind him, he heads across “the old killing field.” (italics mine)
I’m with Skintick on this idea, which we’ve seen elsewhere in the series, that the best rulers are often those who don’t seek to rule. I wouldn’t have minded seeing that scene with Spinnock, though I’m fine with it second-hand this way. Although I am a little surprised at “Korlat’s eyes shone.” I would have liked a tiny little reference (just a few words) to Orfantal’s death/disappearance there.
Yeah, I could have lived without Clip making it. Oh well.
I can’t feel much emotion at the “loss” of Aranatha since, as Skintick says, we never really saw her as Aranatha.
We’ve got a dragon on the loose. That can’t be good (for someone). Will we see Silanah again?
I like that echo in Nimander’s line about “prayers [...] feel cleaner when one says them not for oneself, but on behalf of someone else,” the echo with the description of Rake’s act by Ditch in Dragnipur, the idea of not “doing for oneself.”
Yep Amanda, can’t get more clear “foreshadowing” than that line by Baruk about the Tyrant—he’s a comin’.
While the breaking of the sword and the release of those inside it offers up some excitement for Draconus free in the world and what he might do, it also brings up a pang of renewed sorrow that it comes too late for Pearl.
I like that flash forward about Envy never telling anyone about her time at the barrow—that sense yet again of all this story taking place in a much grander story that we’re just not privy to.
That’s a nice sense of barrenness in that first paragraph of the closing segment: the repetition of empty, the fire “weak” and “flickering,” the stones “charred,” the coals “ebbing.” All parallel to the “tale now spun, spun out.”
But then the sense of a refuge here amidst friends, a light (even if a weak or dying one) amidst the darkness, a trio amidst the emptiness, a dance amongst the stillness—all of this a refuge against/within that “vast world so discordant [and] gleeful in cruelty.” A redemption of sorts. A great close to one of my favorite books in this series. But more on that in our wrap next time…
Amanda Rutter is the editor of Strange Chemistry books, sister imprint to Angry Robot.