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By and large, I have found the writing style in the Malazan Book of the Fallen to be consistent across the first seven novels. They were all written by Steven Erikson. However, I feel there is a distinct shift in style in the eight book, Toll the Hounds, also written by Erikson.

Toll the Hounds seems to feature numerous passages of a style similar to, for example, the concluding section of Book Two's Chapter 9:

Night seeps into Darujhistan, a thick blinding fog in which people stumble or hide as they walk the alleys and streets. Some are drawn like moths to the lit areas and the welcoming eternal hiss of gas from the wrought iron poles. Others seek to move as one with the darkness, at least until some damned piece of crockery snaps underfoot, or a pebble is sent skittering. And everywhere can be seen the small glitter of rodent eyes, or heard the slither of tails.

Light glows through shutters and bubbled glass windows, but never mind the light and all peaceful slumber and discourse and all the rest such illumination might reveal! Dull and witless the expectations so quickly and predictably surrendered!

[Followed by quick peeks on the actions of Lady Challice, Torvald Nom, a guard, an ironmonger (?), Harllo Jr and a Great Raven, and this final passage:]

And this was a night like any other, a skein of expectations and anticipations, revelations and perturbations. Look around. Look around! On all sides, day and night, light and dark! Every step taken with the firm resolve to believe in the solid ground awaiting it. Every step, one after another, again and again, and no perilous ledge yawns ahead, oh no.

Step and step, now, step and step —

I'm not sure what to call this sort of writing, but it generally features:

  1. a quick third-person overview of a bunch of characters,
  2. flowery descriptions of the scenery, and
  3. exhortations to the reader to do something (look at, or appreciate the irony of, or take pity on, something or the other)
  4. a short length (2-3 pages at most)

This sort of writing is not unusual in itself*, but I don't think the previous 7 books had many, if any, instances of it, whereas Toll the Hounds has multiple such instances - and I am not even halfway through it! Personally I find such sections tedious, making the entire book far more hard reading than the others.

Is there a noticeable change in Erikson's writing style in this book? If so, what triggered it? Has he talked about it somewhere?


* It reminds me of 19th - early 20th century writings, for some reason. Dickens? O'Henry?

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