Crack'd Pot Trail: A Malazan Tale of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach
by Steven Erikson
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765324252
Date: 13 September 2011 List Price $12.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This is a Malazan tale of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. Or, at least that is what it is supposed to be. In reality, this book is about a group of people who are chasing Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. The Crack'd Pot Trail is a Pilgrim trail that runs through some very rough country and is very difficult to get across. It is also the trail that Bauchelain and Korbal Broach have supposedly taken.
The group chasing them consists of a mixed bunch of misfits, mercenaries and, oddly enough, story tellers. As the group travels, an odd competition breaks out. One with deadly consequences as the story tellers are put in the position of telling the story of their lives or being eaten. Seems the group did not bring enough food for the trip and they have resorted to eating a member of the group as a means of surviving. In fact, they end up eating members regularly instead of trying to stretch the meals out, but that's just the way this story goes. So, they travel, they tell stories, and they yearn to catch Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. As the group grows smaller the force on the storytellers grows greater.
My biggest problem with this book is that it is seriously mis-advertised. How can you have a tale of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach when neither appears until the final few pages? This is no tale of them but rather a tale of those who are after them. I kept waiting for some twist, some turn, some trick. But it never happened. This is like buying milk only to find that the top 98% is water. Very disappointing.
I have to say that the writing is very good but the fact that you keep waiting for Bauchelain and Korbal Broach to show up is so distracting that neither the writing nor the story serves to dissuade you that not all things are right in Malazan. This is one of those books where I would truly like to have been in on the packaging meeting. What were they thinking? In the end I come out of this with no positive feelings at all. In fact, I feel cheated. The whole thing has a very contrived feel about it. It's classic bait and switch. They would have been better served to promote the book differently. Sadly disappointed am I in the time I spent getting from the first page to the last. Can't recommend it at all.