Toll The Hounds is a big, big book easily breaking the thousand page mark, like most of Erikson's books, and as has been commented on other huge books by different authors 'an author in real need of a good editor' could well apply to this opus. There are times when I was reading it that I wanted to scream, at some of the extraneous wordage, to vanish. But this is just me - book by other authors that I have thought were fine, people have pointed out how over written they were...
That being said I struggled with the opening of the book, and by opening I mean the first 800 pages! I found it slow going, an abundance of characters, entwining plot threads, and other than the odd glimmer of Erikson's undoubted genius in some of the rare action scenes I found the book to be seriously below par. A three star review or lower.
But everything explodes into action over the last four chapters (quite literally) and from there it is like a racehorse bursting from the starting line, breathless, dynamic, superlative and absolutely un-put-down-able: Erikson at his best.
Taking that into account and looking at the book as a whole, I think that there is no way the book could have worked as well as it did. The slowness and complexity of the first 800 pages are what makes the end so brilliant, the juxtaposition of everything happening after being so slow makes the detonation leap right off the page.
This is a series closing in on it's final conclusion and it shows, pieces are coming together and major characters are moving towards their final position. There are some incredible twists, major characters die (not to mention a very major character AND a God!), there are massive shifts and changes in the way the world works.
This is not my favourite Malazan book, and I fear it does have subjective (to me) flaws, but the ending chapters are amongst my favourite Erikson has written and my thoughts on the book slipped from 'Oh hell, I've got another two to get through yet,' to 'Now where did I put the next one!'