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Toll the Hounds is the eighth novel in the Malazan Book of the Fallen epic fantasy series by Steven Erikson. It was first published in the UK and Canada on June 30, 2008, and in the US on September 16, 2008.

Publisher's Summary[]

In Darujhistan, the city of blue fire, it is said that love and death shall arrive dancing. It is summer and the heat is oppressive, but for the small round man in the faded red waistcoat, discomfiture is not just because of the sun. All is not well. Dire portents plague his nights and haunt the city streets like fiends of shadow. Assassins skulk in alleyways, but the quarry has turned and the hunters become the hunted.

Hidden hands pluck the strings of tyranny like a fell chorus. While the bards sing their tragic tales, somewhere in the distance can be heard the baying of Hounds... And in the distant city of Black Coral, where rules Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness, ancient crimes awaken, intent on revenge. It seems Love and Death are indeed about to arrive...hand in hand, dancing.

A thrilling, harrowing novel of war, intrigue and dark, uncontrollable magic, Toll the Hounds is the new chapter in Erikson's monumental series - epic fantasy at its most imaginative and storytelling at its most exciting.

Front matter[]


This novel is dedicated to the memory of my father, R. S. Lundin, 1931-2007. You are missed.


Gratitude as always goes to my advance readers: Bowen, Rick, Mark and Chris, with special thanks to Bill and Hazel for their kind words and support over the course of what proved to be a difficult year. Appreciation also goes to the staff of the Black Stilt Café and the Pacific Union Café for their generous loan of office space.

Love to Clare and Bowen, for everything.



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Publisher Format/Edition First published Pages ISBN-10 ISBN-13 Notes
United Kingdom — Toll the Hounds
Bantam Hard cover 2008 923 xxx 978-0593046371 First edition
Bantam Trade paperback 2008 923 xxx 978-0593046388
Bantam Mass market paperback 9 Apr 2009 1296 xxx 978-0553824469
United States — Toll the Hounds
Tor Hard cover 2008 829 0765310082 978-0765310088 Cover by Todd Lockwood
Tor Trade paperback 2008 829 0765316544 978-0765316547 Cover by Todd Lockwood
Tor Hard cover, Science Fiction Book Club xxx xxx xxx xxx
Tor Mass market paperback xxx xxx xxx xxx
Subterranean Press Hard cover Aug 2018 992 xxx xxx Limited numbered/lettered editions

Illustrated by Marc Simonetti

List of illustrations
  1. "The strength she kept hidden was unveiled suddenly..."
  2. Late Night Bridgeburners
  3. A New Guest At the Fire
  4. Darujhistan In Sight (lettered only)
  5. Sisters

Plot Summary[]

Toll the Hounds
Dramatis Personae Prologue
Vow to the Sun
Chapter 1 Chapter 2
Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6
Cold-Eyed Virtues
Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 10
Chapter 11 Chapter 12
To Die in the Now
Chapter 13 Chapter 14
Chapter 15 Chapter 16
Chapter 17 Chapter 18
Toll the Hounds
Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Chapter 21 Chapter 22
Chapter 23 Chapter 24
Epilogue Pagination

Spoiler unsafe

The following summaries contain spoilers
Please access individual chapter summaries via the Chapter infobox

Many of the characters from Gardens of the Moon and Memories of Ice, make a return in this novel.


The prologue is divided into four separate scenes.

The first is in a "necropolis of sorts", where two people, who are revealed to be dead, witness a meeting between Hood, Edgewalker, Shadowthrone and Anomander Rake, though they are not privy to what is discussed.

The second is set in the realm of Dragnipur, where it is suggested that the Wagon is becoming very difficult to pull, as more souls keep dying, while on the horizon, Chaos steadily advances on the Gate of Kurald Galain.

The third scene plays out in a village, where two girls notice the departure of a dog, and decide to follow.

And the last scene is by a fire on an empty plain (likely in Kruppe's dream world), where Kruppe asks K'rul to witness him dance.



The retired Bridgeburners are enjoying their retirement when Assassins from the Assassins' Guild suddenly come after them, though the assassins soon discover that the Bridgeburners aren't easy marks.

Spite and her companions arrive in Darujhistan, and go their separate ways. Crokus, who is Cutter, is anxious at the thought of being reunited with his old friends of the Phoenix Inn, while Barathol seeks anonymity in the city.

Mappo Runt is anxious to find Icarium, who is on the Letheri continent. He hires the Trygalle Trade Guild to take him to that distant continent and is accompanied by Gruntle, who does this because he is irritated by all the attention from the acolytes and priestess of Trake, the new God of War.

Black Coral[]

Itkovian's sacrifice (in Memories of Ice) gave birth to a new cult (the cult of the Redeemer), propelling him to godhood. But another god is out there to bend and corrupt the cult. And only a former Seerdomin appears to stand in that god's path.

Anomander Rake, the Son of Darkness, asks Endest Silann, the broken High Mage of Moon's Spawn, and Spinnock Durav, the wandering Tiste Andii warrior, to do what must be done, as he senses many things coming.

Lamatath Plain[]

Karsa, Traveller and Samar Dev by Marc Simonetti (Official Image)

As Karsa Orlong and Samar Dev traverse the Lamatath Plain, they encounter Traveller. Someone, Karsa realizes, not even he can cross.

Nimander & Companions and Kallor[]

Clip leads Nimander Golit and the others toward Black Coral, where his confrontation with the Son of Darkness awaits. They encounter Kallor, and he joins them on their journey.

The Realm of Dragnipur[]

Within the realm of Dragnipur, more and more souls are dying, and the ones left standing are more than aware that Chaos is on the verge of overtaking the wagon. And when that occurs, Draconus, the elder god who forged Dragnipur, is aware that all the realms could be destroyed. He has a desperate plan to face what seems inevitable, but little does he know that a blind Tiste Andii has an agenda of his own.


Book One: Vow to the Sun[]


This creature of words cuts
To the quick and gasp, dart away
The spray of red rain
Beneath a clear blue sky
Shock at all that is revealed
What use now this armour
When words so easy slant between?
This god of promises laughs
At the wrong things, wrongly timed
Unmaking all these sacrifices
In deliberate malice
Recoil like a soldier routed
Even as retreat is denied
Before corpses heaped high in walls
You knew this would come
At last and feign nothing, no surprise
To find this cup filled
With someone else's pain
It's never as bad as it seems
The taste sweeter than expected
When you squat in a fool's dream
So take this belligerence
Where you will, the dogged cur
Is the charge of my soul
To the center of the street
Spinning round all fangs bared
Snapping at thirsty spears
Thrust cold and purged of your hands

Hunting Words
Brathos of Black Coral

Book Two: Cold-Eyed Virtues[]


From her ribs and from the hair of women
Seen swimming sun-warmed rivers in summer's light,
From untroubled brows and eyes clear and driven
Gazing out from tower windows when falls the night
From hands cupped round pipe bowls alabaster carved
When veiled invitations coy as blossoms under shade
Invite a virgin's dance a rose-dappled loved so starved
Where seen a coarse matron not yet ready to fade
and the tall bones of legs 'neath rounded vessels perched
Swaying lusty as a tropical storm above white coral sands
Where in all these gathered recollections I have searched
To fashion this love anew from soil worked well
by hands
And into the bower garland-woven petals fluttering down
Hovers the newfound woman's familiar unknown face
For on this earth no solitude is welcomed when found
And she who is gone must be in turn replaced
And by the look in her eye I am a composite man
Assembled alike from stone, twig and stirred sediment
Lovers lost and all those who might have been we neither should rail nor stroke searing resentments
For all the rivers this world over do flow in but one

Love of the Broken

Book Three: To Die in the Now[]


Push it on to the next moment
Don't think now, save it
For later when thinking will show
It's useless face
When it's too late and worry is wasted
In the rush for cover
Push it past into that pocket
So that it relents its gnawing presence
And nothing is worth doing
In pointless grace
When all the valid suppositions
Smother your cries
Push it over into the deep hole
You don't want to know
In case it breaks and makes you feel
Cruel reminders
When all you could have done is now past
No don't bother
Push it well into the corner
It's no use, so spare me the grief
You didn't like the cost so bright, so high
The bloodiest cut
When all you sought was sweet pleasure
To the end of your days
Push it on until it pushes back
Shout your shock, shout it
You never imagined you never knew what
Turning away would do
Now wail out your dread in wave of disbelief
It's done it's dead
Push your way to the front
Clawing the eyes of screaming kin
No legacy awaits your shining children
It's Killed, killed
Gone the future all to feed some holy glory
The World is Over.

Siban's Dying Confession
Siban of Aren

Book Four: Toll the Hounds[]


Like broke slate
We take our hatred
And pile it high
A ragged line to map
Our rise and fall
And I saw suffused
With the dawn
Crows aligned in rows
Along the crooked wall
Come to feed
Bones lie scattered
At the stone's foot
The heaped ruin
Of past assaults
The crows face each way
To eye the pickings
On both sides
For all its weakness
The world cannot break
What we make
Of our hatred
I watched the workers
Carry each gray rock
They laboured
Blind and stepped
Unerringly modest paths
Piece by sheared piece
They built a slaughter
Of innocent others
While muttering as they might
Of waves of weather
And goodly deeds

We the Builders
Hanasp Tular


  • Of all the Malazan books, Toll the Hounds had the greatest impact on Erikson while writing. His own father was dying at the time, and the novel involved "delving into the nature of grief and working through that grief." Erikson says the book also served as a "cipher for the series" because it is the only book in the series where the reader knows the identity of the voice driving the narrative. "So it's a kind of self conscious narrator, so it's meta fictional, and that is actually the cipher to an alternate reading of the entire series."[1] See Erikson discuss more about what he means by the "cipher" here.
  • Although Erikson says "grief is of the things that is spinning around in this novel...the core that I see is not grief, and it's not absolution, and it's not redemption. It's love. And you cannot have grief without love. And you cannot have love without the inevitability of grief. You cannot have redemption without love. You cannot absolution without love. So, if love is at the core of this novel, that in a sense answers why it has to be Kruppe telling the story, because of all the characters in the Malazan world there is nobody who loves that world more than Kruppe. And so his whole personality is a kind of exuberant expression of that love...Kruppe had to be my filter because I was going to be translating some very real world personal feelings and experiences that I was going through at the time. And I needed Kruppe as much as, I think, the reader ends up needing Kruppe...I think that was my defense mechanism. And instinctively, I guess, I landed on Kruppe to tell the story." [2]
  • Writing the Endest Silann scenes that took the reader back to Kharkanas interested Erikson enough that he decided to follow up the Malazan Book of the Fallen with the Kharkanas Trilogy. He says those scenes "opened the door to the Kharkanas Trilogy...That's where I really started thinking about post-Crippled God...and thinking about what I would approach next. And I think I just got so caught up and interested in the Kharkanas stuff, that I ended up putting a lot of things in place that I was going to deal with...and open up a whole new series on."[3]
  • Erikson says many of this novel's storylines included intentional callbacks to Gardens of the Moon.[4]
  • The appearance of a cat in the hallway after Torvald Nom's amorous encounter in Chapter 5 is a nod to Ernest Hemingway's short story, Cat in the Rain and is intended to reference a subtext of seduction.[5]
  • Erikson also says he was aware he was going to be writing the Witness Trilogy during the writing of Toll the Hounds and so "there is foreshadowing already present" in the book for that series.[6]

Cover gallery[]

External links[]

Notes and references[]