Wed
Aug 21 2013 12:00pm

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Toll the Hounds, Epilogue

Malazan Book of the Fallen Toll the Hounds Steven EriksonWelcome 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.

EPILOGUE SUMMARY

SCENE 1

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.

SCENE TWO

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.

SCENE THREE

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.”

SCENE FOUR

We return to the start at Kruppe’s fire and Fisher and K’rul witness Kruppe dance, as “The tale is spun. Spun out.”

Amanda’s Reaction

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…

Bill’s Reaction

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.

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 fantasyliterature.com.

18 comments
Dukkha
1. Dukkha
Hey all,

Finally caught up to the reread! Ive been following you guys for a while now during my own reread and have been dreading this moment when I now have to wait for posts (excellent job Bill and Amanda, the details make me feel like I can count this as three times through the series).

I have a couple of questions from last chapter
@Mayhem - Are you sure that Kallor's wasted jacuruku empire is turned into dragnipur? I had always thought that it was the imperial warren? The descriptions of ash and bone, plus the fact that k'rul made a place within himself for it lead me to believe its the imperial warren.

@Billcap - Why is Spinnock leaving in scene 20 instead of Travellor? the description says that they are wandering, lost without a purpose and wouldnt traveller have no purpose or goal now that his vengeance has been denied to him? I imagined that Spinnock fought Kallor farther away from the city, and would have departed with Korlat.

Thanks again for this reread, you guys have been awesome!
Nadine L.
2. travyl
Since Draconus lives again, it should work for Hood as well. Why then would he cease to be Lord of the Dead?
Dukkha
4. Vanye
@Travyl; because it seems that was part of his bargain with Ganoes Paran. He is no longer the ruler of Death. That mantle has been passed to a somewhat different entity...
- -
5. hex
Great book and a thundering crescendo. One of my favorites in the series.

One minor grouse- the Spinnock/Salind thing didn't jive for me. He loves her? When did that happen? I know he's thinking of her when he leaves to go wait for Kallor, but it seems like they've spent virtually no time in eachother's company. What did I miss?
Brian R
6. Mayhem
On the one hand, Aranatha being around would be neat. On the other - the siblings have been walking around seeing their sister still walking and talking but the wrong person home. And everyone is worshipping the one who is there. Now that is just disturbing!

On Clip ... I actually like that he's still around, and still a pain in the ass. It makes for a much more realistic ending - and bad pennies always seem to turn up. And it shows so much more of Nimander's character that he simply sighs and accepts his presence as inevitable.

@Dukkha
I knew I should have put a #Here be speculation# line at the top of my post. The remains of Kallor's kingdom is definitely in the Imperial Warren. But I'm not convinced the warren was deserted when it was used ... I have a sneaking feeling there is an original owner as it were floating around.

Rather I think that it interesting that use of power by the Elder Gods involved the use of chains to draw Kallor's kingdom away from Wu. Not persuasion, or pushing but force, and dragging. Following that by the idea of forging using chains .. I see a definite link, if not a direct one.

@Bill
I have a few thoughts on the logic behind Dragnipur, but they're a significant spoiler at this point. Will put it into the spoiler thread.
Nancy Hills
7. Grieve
@hex - I don't think you "missed" anything with the Salind/Spinnock thing. There really was nothing to miss. It was like "huh? Why?" for me. They never spent any time together worth mentioning. How could a man that has lived that long and seen as much as he has fall in love with her (we don't know her feelings about it)? However, I frequently ask myself some version of that in books and movies, though it can also be the opposite, with she/him in place of he/her. Or both.
Dukkha
8. BDG91
This book is one my favourite of the series and now that it's over I feel save to come and say: I don't overly like Rake for the sole reason is it seems he is a terrible father. I thing against terrible fathers and leaving all your kids (and brother for that matter) to defend a pretty important artifact without so much as holler is horrible. More so that he commands such great warriors but still decided to leave it to children, it irks me greatly. Other than that one of my favourite books.
Nancy Hills
11. Grieve
@8 BDG91 - I actually had a post about that in TtH: Chapter Two. Second to the last post in the Reread of the chapter.

I tried to post the link but it wouldn't post. (I hope it doesn't show up later and triple post. My apologies if it does.)

I will say, great leaders don't always make great fathers. The emotional makeup and temperment needed for each are almost exact opposites in many ways. That includes the ability to distance onself enough to make the tough decisions and take unpleasant actions.
Gerd K
12. Kah-thurak
I do not think that we have the whole story on the Tiste Andii of Drift Avali. Remember that Andarist, Rakes brother was the one in charge there and that a lot of others had died while Nimander and his group survived. Remember that the Tiste Andii on the Silanda, defeated by the Tiste Edur fleet commandad by Binadas Sengar and turned into "undead" rowers, were there originally too. And as far as I remember there may have been other Tiste Andii ships involved in that battle in the Nascent. So we can hardly say that Rake left a group of "children" (and how old were those children anyhow?) to guard the throne.
Dukkha
16. BDG91
@ Kah-thurak

If not children clearly people unfit for the duty seeing as how they all died. And required intervention from other forces to 'hold the line'. On top of that it's quiet clear Nimander doesn't know much of his father.

I can respect Rake but also dislike him. Much like Tavore, who killed her sister after putting her in a slave-mine, which lead her to the position in which she could be killed. They play the long game, the greater good and I can respect (and cheer/cry for them) that but that doesn't make them anymore likeable.

@ Grieve

I went back and read the post, it was pretty interesting. I highly agree with your views on Clip, while a high end asshat, was a legitiment beef with Rake. His anger is not borne out of ignorance but out of suffering. I often half-agree with the opposing POVs like Clip and Felisin or later Blistig because they have a right to their anger. I don't agree with how they express it (except Felisin, she pretty much awesome) but I do agree that they deserve answers.
Gerd K
17. Kah-thurak
@BDG91
I am not really sure why you think Rake is responsible for the Andii living on Drift Avali or in Bluerose. Ultimately I do not remember any direct reference that Rake "left them there". He cerainly did not force them to stay. And when the Edur attacked them I am not really sure what he could have done at the time.
Dukkha
18. Karlreadsthesebooks
Rake was actually a pretty great father. He kept the kids hidden knowing they were

1. Soletaken - more on this will come later, but being soletaken elient is very taxing on the conscience and the inherent chaos can drive some with the prediliction to severe mental instability.

2. He left them with Andarist instead of taking them with him. Andarist is a much better role model and is not involved in any of the conflicts on Wu outside of protecting the throne. And we're not really sure how long he was there doing that.

3. How Tiste peoples reproduce is anything but clear at this point. We know they have lotsa sex, but does that result in a child? Not too sure about that, and if they do, not too sure about the science of it either. Something tells me its not exactly like human gestation.

4. Anomander had an entire race of people looking up to him. He was The Son of Darkness, but the only leader the Andii had. Some even worshipped him.

5. We also know that Endest Silann was the Andii kids' tutor. How long ago was that? Kharkanas? The exodus? After that?

Too much is still unknown to flat out call Anomander Rake a "bad father". Perhaps in passing coversation its quaint in its coloquialness, but as a blanket statement, its anything but *ahem* black and white.
Dukkha
19. Raven728
I don't know what this says about me, but I actually kind of like Kallor after reading TtH. He's just a lonely guy whose sole ambition is despotic rule and enslavement of everyone on the planet. Hey, at least he knows who he is and what he wants. None of that Nimander vacillation here!
Dukkha
20. Wilbur
@19 - I agree with Raven in that Kallor's certainty and drive to succeed is more attractive to me than the whininess of the Andii kids. Thus Erikson pits my personal appreciation for goal-oriented action against his theme of compassion, making these challenging but interesting books to read.

Also, I thought that the tiger-legged undead guy that Harl freed from the mine who eventually ended up buried in the Finnest House was the coming Daru Tyrant. So is there another one on the way?
Brian R
21. Mayhem
@Wilbur

Nope, the coming Tyrant is/was human...
Nancy Hills
22. Grieve
@19 Raven728 - Ya, he come does across as a more complex and tragic figure in the last half of TtH, but that just shows you the power of perspective. Taken from the perspective of one of the people whose lives he destroyed and/or callously killed or one of his wives, murdered or not, he might not seem so tragic. If you actually look at what he's saying, he's just a completely self-centered, immature whiner. "I didn't get what I wanted. Waaahhhh."

@18 Karlreadsthesebooks - I think we need to define good father or parent vs. bad father or parent. In my opinion, Rake is not a good father, he is a good leader. As a father, he is not available to his children, he does not guide them in any way, he does not show them love or approval or discipline or any of the things a parent needs to do to encourage healthy growth in a child.

A parent is not the same thing as a leader. Emotinal distance is not a good thing in a parent. A person can be a decent parent even if they are physically separated if they are available to the child emotionally. That takes a lot of work. It is states that Rake had little interaction with them even when they were physically near him. In fact, it never mentions him talking to them ar all, I do believe.

Rake's approach to them, in many ways, mirrored Mother Dark's turning away. He separated himself the from contact and from answering their pleas for love and attention. He retreated from his children in to his own realm in his own way and Andarist played Anomander's role in this more micro scenario.

He many have had very good reasons for doing that, but children don't care about reasons as they grow. They only know that the parent isn't "there" to love them., which children usually interrupt as they are not adequate and/or worthy of love.

I don't believe any of your points touch on his interaction with his children. His choices maybe the right (or wrong) things for a dispassionate guardian, but they are not providing what a good father needs to provide. In my opinion, of course.

I have to add, it is not a terrible thing for Rake's character to have this flaw. He needs one or two, and this one fits with his emotional distance and being a Tiste Andii.
Gerd K
23. Kah-thurak
@Grieve
I am really not sure if the "beeing a good Father" thing can apply to people who live for hundreds of thousands of years. How long should Rake stay with his children?

The story how Nimander and his siblings were born and how Rake treated them when they were children may be told in the Kharkans triology, but it is certainly not told in the MBotF.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment