Wednesday, 25 April 2007

‘The Lees of Laughter’s End’ – Steven Erikson

‘The Lees of Laughter’s End’ is the third novella featuring those nefarious necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach but it actually sits (chronologically) between ‘Blood Follows’ and ‘The Healthy Dead’. Having left the city of Lamentable Moll, the necromancers and their hapless servant Emancipor Reese (who is beginning to realize that he picked the wrong job) take ship for a journey via the blood red sea-lane of Laughter’s End. However, trouble ever follows these two villains (although sometimes they follow it…) and before long they must deal with several undead monsters and an angry God…
One my favourite parts of ‘Memories of Ice’ was the introduction of Bauchelain & Korbal Broach; they had their part to play but also served to flesh out a world beyond the scheming of the Malazan Empire, the Bauchelain/ Korbal Broach ‘mini’ series does the same kind of thing in it’s brief sketches of lands that are barely hinted at in the main series.
‘Lees’ also showcases Erikson’s considerable skills as a writer of shorter fiction. What other writers (they know who they are!) struggle to fit into multi-volume epics Erikson achieves with consummate ease. In just over one hundred pages I was hooked by a tight plot (encompassing one day and night) and characters who held my attention and interest throughout. The main Malazan series has some moments of humour; in ‘Lees’ Erikson indulges both himself and the reader with these, laugh out loud moments for me included a conversation over the number of people called Briv (on board the ship) and the ill fortunes of seaman Gust Hubb (the poor guy…) The only problem I had was Erikson’s tendency to drop readers in the middle of the action without much background knowledge, this works fine in a longer novel (where information can be introduced gradually) but can leave the reader, of a shorter work, feeling that they’re missing something important. This is a small quibble though and the confirmed Erikson fan (me!) won’t find this a problem at all.
I heartily recommend this book to any Malazan fans or anyone thinking of getting into the series. It’s a touch expensive (£12 for a hardback, £25 for a signed hardback) but I think its money well spent.

Nine out of Ten

No comments: