Blood Follows

Having read The Lees of Laughter's End when it came out a few years back, I knew the time had come to finally read the rest of the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novellas. I had Crack'd Pot Trail sitting on the pile, so I decided to read both Blood Follows and The Healthy Dead before I could wrap it all up with the latest novella.

Steven Erikson is renowned for writing veritable doorstopper fantasy yarns. In light of this, I've always been impressed by the fact that he also excels in short form. Indeed, some people actually prefer these novellas to his long form body of work.

Although The Malazan Book of the Fallen can be deep and depressing at times, there is no question that the author possesses a quirky and twisted sense of humor. Karsa Orlong, Iskaral Pust, and Kruppe are good examples in that regard. And yet, no characters or their tribulations are as fun to read as the misadventure of poor Emancipor Reese and his two employers, the eccentric necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach.

And Blood Follows recounts how it all began.

Here's the blurb:

All is not well in Lamentable Moll.

A sinister, diabolical killer stalks the port city's narrow, barrow-humped streets, and panic grips the citizens like a fever.

Emancipor Reese is no exception, and indeed, with his legendary ill luck, it's worse for him than for most. Not only was his previous employer the unknown killer's latest victim, but Emancipor is out of work. And, with his dearest wife terminally comfortable with the manner of life to which she asserts she has become accustomed (or at least to which she aspires) -- for her and their two whelps -- all other terrors grow limp and pale for poor Emancipor.

But perhaps his luck has finally changed, for two strangers have come to Lamentable Moll... and they have nailed to the centre post in Fishmonger's Round a note requesting the services of a manservant.

This is surely a remarkable opportunity for the hapless Emancipor Reese... no matter that the note reeks with death-warded magic; no matter that the barrow ghosts themselves howl with fear every night; and certainly no matter that Lamentable Moll itself is about to erupt in a frenzy of terror-inspired anarchy.... After all, it's work... and working is better than not working.

Isn't it

The worldbuilding doesn't play as big a role as it does in the series, yet it allows Erikson to introduce readers to new locales, customs, and people. The Malazan universe is so vast and diverse that the author can't possibly show us everything, especially given the fact that the main series takes place on a number of continents. But with the necromancers traveling around and wreaking havok everywhere they happen to be, we get to see more of the world and its myriad people.

The down-on-his-luck Emancipor Reese may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I never get tired of reading about his adventures in the employ of the necromancers. Humor abounds, and you find yourself chuckling every couple of pages or so. The conversations between Bauchelain and his manservant are always highlights to be savored.

The only problem with these novellas is that they are too short and all too soon one reaches the end. But Steven Erikson has plans for many more of them, so we have something to look forward to.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe. Blood Follows is also collected in Bauchelain and Korbal Broach (Canada, USA, Europe)

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