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Bauchelain and Korbal Broach

Posted by Steve the Bookstore Guy On Monday, February 21, 2011

These novellas just don't get old, and we were asked by a reader what our opinion of them was. We've known for years now how awesome Steven Erikson's novels are, but his shorter work is criminally underrated. In Erikson's third Malazan novel, MEMORIES OF ICE (one of the most incredible books we have EVER read), we are introduced to Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, two necromancers, and their manservant, Emancipor Reese. Perhaps you wondered, like we did upon our first encounter, where these characters came from. That is what this collection, BAUCHELAIN AND KORBAL BROACH, is for. In it are collected three novellas of fist-pumping goodness.

During the course of Erikson's novels, you may have noticed how well he does humor. From characters like Kruppe, Iskaral Pust, and the various Bridgeburners/Bonehunters, Erikson has included come characters that can't help but make a reader laugh. Bauchelain, Korbal Broach and Emancipor Reese are no different, and these three novellas are complete comedy.

The first novella in the collection is Blood Follows. This is really the origin tale for Emancipor Reese, and how he comes into contact with the two necromancers. Emancipor Reese has bad luck. In fact, he is known to his friends as Mancy the Luckless. There are a string of murders in the Mancy's home town of Lamentable Moll, and Mancy's current employer is the latest victim. He needs a job. He has a family to after all. So, Mancy responds to a job listing for two fellows needing a manservant. This story is as fantastic now as it was when it was originally released back in 2002. We've read it half a dozen times now, and it just stays hysterical.

The Lees of Laughter's End follows up directly after Blood Follows. The two necromancers and their manservant have left Lamentable Moll on the ship Suncurl. Unfortunately, certain cargo on the ship awakens during the journey, and we are left with a more comedic, fantasy story vague reminiscent of the movie Alien. Our personal opinion is that this is the least awesome of the three novellas, but still terrific.

The final story, The Healthy Dead is absolutely fantastic. Originally published in 2004, it follows the exploits of our favorite necromancers and Mancy the manservant as they take on the troubles of the town of Quaint. This town is TOO good. TOO healthy. As Bauchelain knows, that sort of thing leads to the end of civilization. It's up to our three heroes to corrupt Quaint back into safety. Our personal favorite, with sections that have us laughing out-loud, even several reads later.

The great thing about these stories is you get a small taste of what makes Erikson so good. A little Sword & Sorcery (please tell us you read Erikson's Goats of Glory?), a little comedy, and a lot of good characters. As with all Erikson stories, there are subtle references to other Malazan stories throughout the novellas. It makes them even better upon subsequent read-throughs.

You could start with these novellas if you wanted, and they would give you a brief glimpse into Erikson's skill and ability. Personally, we would read these after reading MEMORIES OF ICE. Why? 'Cause we said. BAUCHELAIN AND KORBAL BROACH is a fantastic addition to your Malazan collection. If you haven't read this three-story collection, you are missing out on some terrific writing, and some perfectly timed and written comedy. We absolutely love it.

Recommended Age: 16 and up.
Language: Nothing major. On par with the rest of the series.
Violence: It's Erikson. Of course there is violence, and of course it is completely AWESOME!
Sex: Some. Mostly for comedic purposes. The scene in The Lees of Laughter's End has us in stitches every time.


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