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The Lees of Laughter's End (Tales of Bauchelain & Korbal Broach) Hardcover – December 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
The latest yarn in Erickson's sprawling Malazan Book of the Fallen fantasy series is filled with striking characters and ambience, but light on action and plot. Aboard a stolen sailing ship called the Suncurl are the quiet eunuch Korbal Broach, a stocky necromancer, and the eloquent sorcerer Bauchelain, a silver-tongued master of demons. As mystical iron nails in the hull merge belowdecks to form an unsavory, undead consciousness starved for flesh and blood, the beautiful Captain Slater reveals a dark secret that may doom them all. Given barely enough narrative for a short story spread over a novella's page count, only die-hard completists will choose this pricy stand-alone over Erikson's forthcoming trade paperback collection of this and two other Bauchelain & Korbal Broach tales. (Sept.)
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About the Author
Steven Erikson is an archaeologist and anthropologist and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His New York Times bestselling Malazan Book of the Fallen has met with widespread international acclaim and established him as a major voice in the world of fantasy fiction. The first book in the series, Gardens of the Moon, was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award. The second novel, Deadhouse Gates, was voted one of the ten best fantasy novels of 2000 by SF Site. He lives in Canada.
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The seaworthy vessel, 'Suncurl' has left the seedy coastal town of Lamentable Moll (gotta love the name) on a run to through the treacherous waters known as the Lees of Laughter's End. This is a trip fraught with dangers at the best of time but one in which the well seasoned captain and skanky crew would normally prevail. However this time, not only are they being pursued, but they've taken on some mysterious cargo and three suspicious travelers; those being the necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach and their manservant Emancipor Reese...the result might be best described by a line from a Gordon Lightfoot song 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald'..."does anyone know where the love of God goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours".
This is the third short volume involving the dynamic duo of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach and once again Steven Erikson has produced a minor masterpiece. Anyone familiar with Erikson's nine (soon to be ten) books of "The Malazan Book of the Fallen" series, will be somewhat accustomed to the strange names and place.
I've almost begun to believe that Erikson's true strength in writing is in these short stories that simply rivet the reader from beginning to end. The action is non-stop and unpredictable; at one moment horrific...the next slapstick funny. The characters are reprobates of the worst sort who'd sell their own mother (or your mother for that matter) without batting an eye. Where backstabbing and clandestine plotting are not only a way of life but almost an art form. Only this time, capt'n and crew find themselves just a tad over-matched.
Erikson is at his best. I suspect there will be those who will bristle at the price of this small hardcover book, but I won't be one of them...it's worth every penny. 5 Stars.
In the previous volume, the bells of Lamentable Moll were pealing to signal the death of a very important person. The killings had happened for the past several nights. The victims were eviscerated and organs are missing.
Mancy returned home to tell his wife that he was now unemployed. His master was the latest victim. The same thing happened several days before.
Subly asked why he has not yet found anther job. Mancy went to a tavern to drink with a couple of crabbers. They told him of a job offer posted in the fishermen's round.
The notice mentioned travel. That meant he might be leaving Theft Island and his family. He was interested in travel right now.
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. Mancy is fleeing his wife and two children in Lamentable Moll.
Sater is the Captain of the Suncurl. A deserter from Toll's City, she knows little about ships.
Ably Druther is the First Mate of the Suncurl. He knows something about seamanship. He is from Moll and knows Mancy as the Luckless.
Birds Mottle, Heck Urse, and Gust Hubb are troopers who also deserted from Toll's City. Now they are sailors on the Suncurl.
Bena the Younger is the daughter of Bena the Elder. They live in the crow's nest of the Suncurl and keep watch both day and night.
In this story, the Suncurl has sailed from Lamentable Moll and is now a week west of Theft in the Tithe Strait. Bena the Younger is looking for the blood trail of Laughter's End. Her mother encourages her.
No other ships are in sight. Bena the Younger strokes her mother's hair. Then she sees the vein of blood and looses a piercing cry.
As the cry dies down, Druther climbs up beside his captain. He asks if she thinks that someone is still following then. She tells him to shut up. When he continue to talk, she warns him that his tongue will be cut out if he isn't quiet.
Mottle says that the cook is a poet. Urse agrees with her. Mancy thinks that he isn't much of a cook. He is smoking Durhang to get an appetite.
Hubb comes rushing into the mess room yelling that someone has cut off his ear. His mates check and find one ear completely missing, but the hole is bleeding profusely. Back at the stern, Korbal is baiting a hook with an ear.
The crusty nails in the timbers have come from the sarcophagi in Moll. Now the souls in these nails are creaking. As they sail into the blood, they are singing songs of freedom.
A lich abides within the hold of the Suncurl. It starts eating the souls in the nails. It grows stronger.
Korbal has constructed his progeny from parts of his victims in Moll. Now he adds the eyes, mouths and legs of the rats on the Suncurl. Then he sends it out to hunt the lich.
Bauchelain has Mancy oil and repair his armor and sharpen his sword. Something is coming after the ship. Bauchelain prepares for a god.
This tale brings death to the Suncurl. Then all sorts of mayhem occur. Mancy is beaten and dragged up to the crow's nest. The sailors start disappearing.
Korbal changes his bait. The next installment in this sequence is Healthy Dead.
Recommended for Erikson fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of terror, violence, and a bit of morbid humor. Read and enjoy!
-Arthur W. Jordin