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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
As you're all undoubtedly aware, over the last few years I became a huge Steven Erikson fan, and I'm always looking forward to the next Malazan installment. Surprisingly, though I can't get enough of The Malazan Book of the Fallen due to it being so ambitious a tale and so vast in scope, the author's hilarious short fiction stories comprised of the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novellas have been totally satisfying reading experiences. So far at least. . .

Here's the blurb:

It is an undeniable truth: give evil a name and everyone's happy. Give it two names and . . . why, they're even happier.

The intrepid necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, scourges of civilization, raisers of the dead, reapers of the souls of the living, devourers of hope, betrayers of faith, slayers of the innocent and modest personifications of evil, have a lot to answer for and answer they will. Known as the Nehemoth, they are pursued by countless self-professed defenders of decency, sanity and civilization. After all, since when does evil thrive unchallenged? Well, often: but not this time.

Hot on their heels are the Nehemothanai, avowed hunters of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. In the company of a gaggle of artists and pilgrims, stalwart Mortal Sword Tulgord Vise, pious Well Knight Arpo Relent, stern Huntsman Steck Marynd, and three of the redoubtable Chanter brothers (and their lone sister) find themselves faced with the cruelest of choices. The legendary Cracked Pot Trail, a stretch of harsh wasteland between the Gates of Nowhere and the Shrine of the Indifferent God, has become a tortured path of deprivation.

Will honour, moral probity and virtue prove champions in the face of brutal necessity? No, of course not. Don't be silly.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Blood Follows, The Healthy Dead, and The Lees of Laughter's End, I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into Crack'd Pot Trail. For if I couldn't read Erikson's The Crippled God, then a new novella featuring my two favorite necromancers and their manservant seemed to be the next best thing. Expecting more of the same in style and tone, I was sorely disappointed. Indeed, while the first three novellas were fun-filled reads showcasing the misadventures of this unlikely trio, Crack'd Pot Trail is more akin to a weird experimental theatre play. The narrative is all over the place and often lacks coherence. At times I found myself wondering what the heck this novella was supposed to be about.

I habitually go through Erikson's novellas in one or two sittings, always bemoaning the fact that the end is reached all too rapidly. Yet with Crack'd Pot Trail, it took me about two weeks to finish a 181-page novella. I kept expecting, or at the very least hoping, that Erikson would turn it around with one of his unanticipated twists that would leave me dumbfounded. But alas, in the end the novella turns out to be a collection of reflections on the nature of art, being an artist, and their relationships with inspiration, their fans, and their craft.

Moreover, the novella's focus remains on the various members of the Nehemothanai. Emancipor Reese, Bauchelain, and Korbal Broach don't make a single appearance until the bottom of page 180. Considering that these three are at the heart of the stories, this was a major disappointment.

As always, humor abounds in this latest short fiction piece, but it doesn't always work. Whereas I found myself chuckling often while reading its predecessors, the humor in Crack'd Pot Trail frequently felt strained and wasn't as funny as in the previous novellas.

The ending, at least, promises more interesting adventures to come. Still, Crack'd Pot Trail, based on the potential of the novellas which came before it, can't be considered anything but a letdown.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you are considering this book because you are ready to dive into the latest outlandish adventure featuring none other than the evil Necromancer's, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, then HOLD OFF because that is not what this book is. If instead, you want to gain a little insight into the mind of the artist/author (in this case Steven Erikson), then this book is definitely worth your time. Underlying the Malazan setting and story is a clearly satirical story about art, criticism, and the methods employed by the artist in making their art. And despite the satire, I believe there are some revealing (autobiographical) tidbits to take away on Steve Erikson's own opinions on the making of his art. Where I found this most book interesting was in those introspective moments by the story's narrator. Here is one example: "I look upon the young and see a generation of such courage as to dare nothing more than the ankle-deep, and see them standing proud and arrogant upon the thin shorelines of unknown seas-and to call this living!" There truly are some profound insights in this book, many worth underlining for future reference. Probably not what you'd expect from a B&KB novella. When you understand what this book is about, the Malazan story itself becomes very enjoyable. And in the end, then there is something that makes me think the next B&KB book will have a lot more action. Read and find out.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the fourth short book in the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach series, which up to this point has been about the tales of these two necromancers, but not with this story. This story is about a motley crew of poets and artists, swordsmen and a clan of comical thug-like characters who all share the name of Chanters who are on a pilgrimage across a desert (called Crack'd Pot Trail). They hook up because they need each other to survive the desert, but they are on two different missions, the swordsmen and Chanters are after the two necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, while the poets are going to a contest to try and win the artist of the year award. The tale is told by one of the poets; Flicker, and he recounts what happens on the end of their journey, which is this tale.

This series of books are all about black comedy, and this book fails a little in this regard. It's just not as funny as the others. Although I will admit it picks up at the end and I was laughing quite a bit, but where was it in the beginning? The other downfall is the fact Bauchelain and Korbal Broach are pretty much only referenced in this story, but this is a preference and not a fault of the story, as I wanted to read more about their adventures. Also the story tends to drag in the middle and in the introduction to this story which introduces us to each character of this pilgrimage and it was long and dull, in my opinion. This is the longest book in this series so far and it shows as it doesn't flow with the fast speed the others did. Now after all this complaining I do have to say that this is an intelligently written and clever story that I enjoyed. Even Erikson's lesser books, in my opinion still offer something as he's a very good writer, so this book might appeal to you. But for me I gave it a 3/5 stars - a little above average.

Of note this story stands on its own and you do not need to read any of the other books in this series to know what's going on. In fact everything is explained up front to setup the story.
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on October 17, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book is far enough along in the series that at this point you either enjoy Bauchelain and Korbal Broach or you don't. Mancey deserves credit in the series as well. But the story at hand surprisingly isn't really about them at all. This story is about the cast of characters in hot pursuit. This is a nice payoff to readers of the series as a couple cool characters from previous stories are present. The writing style is also significantly different. If you're a fan of Erickson I think you may enjoy the playful tone of the writing, especially if you have a soft spot for his quirkier characters like Tehol, Bugg, Kruppe, and Iskaral Pust. I certainly liked the change of pace in a familiar setting.

Like all of Erickson's work this book is highly recommended even if it is short by his standards.
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on February 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Erikson is either a very sick or a semi-enlightened man (both?). Hopefully he has a wife that keeps a close watch on him. This presentation bears the dramatic feel of a comedic stage play, with poignant, cynical, thinly veiled social commentary throughout (I must confess to agree). This little story is a true blatant fantasy, written in a deliciously loose style. Erikson is inviting the reader to come out and play---in the daaaaark! Do so your own peril. Brilliant! I just finished a new book in a different(lighter)genre that I enjoyed. Check it out:The Sacred Spring of the Blood Royal: The Secret Order of the Grail
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Crack'd Pot Trail (2009) is the fourth Fantasy work in the Malazan Tales of Bauchelain & Korbal Broach series, following The Healthy Dead. The initial volume in this sequence is Blood Follows.

In the previous volume, Bauchelain and Broach are coming to the last city on a peninsula. Mancer says a trader has stated its name is Quaint. Bauchelain does not think it looks quaint. They decide to bypass the city.

The road is empty most of the way toward the city. Then two men approach them carrying a heavy chest of gold and silver coins. Imid states that they are Saints of Glorious Labor.

Bauchelain observes that the title seems worthy. Imid disagrees, stating that he is now out of work. The other Saint concurs in that statement.

The Saints explain the death of the previous king and his replacement by King Macrotus, the Overwhelmingly Considerate. The new King had elevated the worship of the Lady of Benefience to the city's official and only legal religion. Now all forms of substances are prohibited.

In this novel, Bauchelain is a wizard and a necromancer. He is Korbal's partner.

Korbal Broach is a eunuch, a killer and a necromancer. He uses the dead for his own nefarious purposes.

Emancipor Reese is the manservant of Bauchelain and Broach. He is fleeing his wife and two children in Lamentable Moll.

Tulgord Vise is Mortal Sword of the Sisters. He is a one of the Nehemothariai, seeking the murderous Bauchelain and Broach.

Arpo Relent is a Well Knight. He too is searching for the Nehemoth.

Relish Chanter is the only sister of the Chanter brothers Tiny, Midge and Flea. Tiny has threatened to punish any man who attempts to deflower their sister. They are also seeking the necromancers.

Steck Marynd is a hunter. He has traveled over half the world on the trail of the Nehemoth.

Dantoc Calmpositis is an elderly woman of Reliant City. The wealthy woman is a pilgrim to the altars of the Indifferent God.

Must Ambertroshin is the doctor, footman and carriage driver of Dantoc. He is the only one who interacts with her.

Saedic Thew is the self proclaimed host of the pilgrimage. He assumes his fame and wealth are known to all.

Calap Roud, Purse Snippet, Brash Phluster and Nifty Gum are pilgrims to the annual Festival of Flowers and Sunny Days at the city of Farrog. They are seeking the Mantle of the Century's Greatest Artist.

Sellup, Pamera and Ogle Gush are the Entourage of Brash. These three maidens are the survivors of those who adore Brash.

Apto Canavalian is a select judge for the Fete. He has been found afoot and lost in the trackless wastes. He had been considered as a source of food, but the artists objected.

Avis Didon Flicker is a storyteller and author. He is accompanying the pilgrims as an observer.

In this story, the Nehemothariai believe Bauchelain and Broach are fleeing before them. Attaching themselves to the caravan, they follow toward Farrog. Then the hunters and pilgrims find themselves facing a trek of twenty-three days without food.

Arpo states that there are too many artists in the world and puts a hand on his blade. When none interrupts, he also asserts that the Nehemothariai are on a just and necessary quest and thus should not be considered as provisions. The women are also excluded.

Flicker cuts to the chase, stating that they need to eat somebody. The Chanter brothers ask who should be eaten first. Relish says that they should tell stories.

So the party agrees to judge the quality of the stories. One artist objects, but his head rolls to the foot of Flicker. At least the next day's meal is assured.

Later, the party is cooking their supper, the leg of a former comrade. Brash is asserting his right to perform next in the competition to see who will be the following night's supper. But first, he should rest and have a critical feasting.

After asserting the flaws of the poet providing the evening meal, Brash begins his story. He states that it was inspired by the Redbloom Poets. Apto asks their names. Brash says that it doesn't matter. Eventually Brash tunes his lyre and starts singing.

With numerous interruptions, Brash continues the song. At the apparent conclusion, he strums the strings too vigorously. The snapped string hits his eye. Marynd's crossbow accidentally releases and the bolt skewers his foot.

Snippet sprays tea into the fire and the flames flare. The aroused fire singes Apto's eyebrows. He falls off his seat and his head lands in a cactus. The Entourage falls into a tangle over Gum. Tiny falls backward away from the fire.

This tale allows Brash to survive another night. Flicker helps by placing a hand over Brash's mouth to keep him from exerting that he was not yet finished. Brash stumbles off to vomit in the bushes.

Roud begins his story. Flicker recognizes the source, but only hints at his knowledge. Sellup asks numerous questions . Tiny finally states that the story will be continued the next day.

The party continues toward the ferry to Farrog. The next installment in this sequence is The Wurms of Blearmouth.

Recommended for Erikson fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of wasteland travelers, murderous knights, and stories told around a fire. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Do yourselves a favor and skip this. B&KB don't even play a role in this book. Very disappointed and feel a bit cheated.
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