Bauchelain and Korbal Broach: Three Short Novels of the Malazan Empire, Volume One
by Steven Erikson
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765324221
Date: 15 September 2009 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
This is a collection of three short novels set in the world of the Malazan Empire. All of the novels focus on the travels of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, sorcerers and definitely unusual fellows. But, then, one expects nothing less from Erikson.
In the first novel Bauchelain and Korbal Broach have arrived in the city of Lamentable Moll, where, coincidentally, a killer has been stalking the streets and stealing body parts from the victims. One of the victims happens to be the employer of Emancipor Reese, a man known for his bad luck. Luckily for Reese, the two sorcerers have posted that they are looking for a man servant. Reese applies and gets the job only to find himself working for what could possible be the killers themselves.
The second novel is set on the ship that the three have taken as they flee Lamentable Moll. Unfortunately the ship appears to be the target of some terror from the deep. It might also have something to do with the creature in the case that Korbal Broach seems to be building from assorted body parts.
The third novel finds the trio near the city of Quaint where a zeal for goodness has overtaken the ruling monarch and, thus, the populace. Well Knights patrol the streets, a temple seems to be taking in babies although none seem to ever be seen again, and civilization seems to be tottering on the brink of a fitness driven madness that only Korbal Broah, Bauchelain, and their manservant Emancipor Reese can end.
These tales are set away from the main action in Erikson's Malazan Empire series although the flavor is certainly the same. Eikson's dark comedy, his sense of fatalism and randomness, and his depth of field all play out here. The writing is crisp and the plots relatively complex for their length. Erikson's ability to move from one seemingly unrelated story line to the next and then tie them all together at the end is at full play here.
I really enjoy Erikson. I think he's perhaps the best fantasy writing of the last decade. The complexity of this story telling is second to none and the characters he creates to inhabit his universe are the oddest and most enjoyable collection of beings I have ever run in to. His infusion of dark humor fits perfectly the often doomed situations the characters find themselves in. I wold recommend getting your hands on any Erikson you can find.