You canta have-ah two popes at the samma time*
Lisa and I are thoroughly regretting not changing to the summer duvet early enough. Last night was the boiling hell of infinite tog ratings, and as an apparent result, i spent most of the morning clutching my head and going “hnngrrrrh” in pain. Lovely.
In other news, I’m almost finished my copy of Toll the Hounds, by Stephen Erikson. I quite enjoyed his other books, being as they are full of an enormous sense of scale with its vast warrens – sources of magic – layered on top of the “real” world and a cast of thousands to go with it. Certainly there is an element of the ever-escalating about it: each successive chapter in some of the books seems set to introduce an ever-more ancient and ever-more powerful being to contest with the crowded muddle of super-powerful races that are already struggling with one another in the name of driving things onward, but it has never got in the way of the more appealing characters in the cast.
Toll the Hounds is a little different. In attempting to draw some threads together, Erikson pulls a cast together towards a confluence of powers that will result in destruction for some, and resolution for others. All well and good, but the tone and pacing leave a lot to be desired. There’s a lot of chaff about Anomander Rake and his servants that is intended to be full of foreboding, but just seems to be there as padding, to remind you that Rake is still there. There’s a great deal of omniscient narrator moralising, some of which is delivered in the style of the self-narrating Kruppe, and the rest is laid on with the interrogative air of a preacher pitching from the high ground. I’m not sure if there’s meant to be a lesson buried in there somewhere, but the narrative kind of put me off considering it much further.
I’m sure there are Erikson fans out there who love it. There’s a lot of story about things long passed and I’m sure anyone interested in cross-referencing the lot would have an absolute field day. Sadly, I’m not one of those people. I would have preferred a version with pretty much the entire cast of Tiste Andii excised from the text and all of the focus on the goings on in the city. Also, the author hasn’t yet learned that he cannot write poetry. I’ve never read verse so eminently skippable since I came across Tom Bombadil.**
*samma time, and the living is easy – God, Spike Milligan was a funny man.
**the library made me buy a new copy of Fellowship of the Ring. I jest, of course.