Zane's Reviews > Toll the Hounds

Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson
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Feb 20, 12

bookshelves: fantasy

Review of the series rather than individual works. Check my star ratings to gauge how the books themselves stack-up. No spoilers. Summary: difficult to get into, post-modern style, well worth the effort, jam-packed with action and complexity and one of my all-time favourite authors.

Erikson writes in a post-modern style. You are catapulted right into the action and exposed to character names, lore references, magical concepts and even fantastical races with no descriptions or explanation provided. This makes his work very inaccessible to new readers, who may not be as captivated by his world or characters and therefore not see the merit in finishing the books.

This also means that the books are not necessarily in chronological order. Books 2 and 3 take place simultaneously, the first part of book 4 occurs at the same time as events in book 1, book 5 occurs before book 1 etc. While this may seem confusing, and nothing described above is encouraging for someone wanting to start this series, this is actually one of the joys of Erikson's writing.

Fantasy, unlike any other genre, encourages epic plots of unparalleled complexity and intrigue with multiple point-of-view characters engaged in complementary quests. Erikson's style, though not accessible, complements the genre's central themes. Each novel increases your understanding of the world, the magic and races. Rather than bog you down with back-story and exposition, your eyes are opened as the story unfolds without any delays to the narrative.

The jumping around chronologically also allows for increased complexity in the plot, with so many subtle links that you miss. What Erikson has wrought is admirable in scope, as well as how internally consistent it is. Try write a ten book epic that isn't in chronological order, keeping each book as engaging as its predecessors while never once accidentally contradicting yourself - I dare you.

Erikson is also the only writer apart from Robert Jordan who manages to pack action of a cinematic quality into his novels. And unlike Jordan, he maintains the same quality throughout all his novels, never once disappointing.
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