Christopher H.'s Reviews > Bauchelain and Korbal Broach: Three Short Novels of the Malazan Empire, Volume One

Bauchelain and Korbal Broach by Steven Erikson
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If you've read Steven Erikson's third volume in his "Malazan Book of the Fallen" series, Memories of Ice, you may remember encountering three very eccentric characters among the Caravanserai--the two necromancers, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, and their manservant, Emancipor Reese. Later in the novel, you might also recall that the Malazan Bridgeburner mage, Quick Ben, has a most interesting (and intense!) meeting with Bauchelain and Korbal Broach at their house in Capustan, and oh what a scene it is! Well, if you were like me you probably wondered who are these guys? What's their story, or back-story? Fortunately, Steven Erikson is starting to answer these questions for all of us who love anything at all connected with the Malazan Empire.

Bauchelain and Korbal Broach is a terrific collection of three novellas that tell the story of these creepy, weird, and kind of scary necromancers. Bauchelain is the more taciturn, and more 'normal' appearing fellow; while his partner-in-crime (horror), Korbal Broach, a large, bald eunuch is nothing short of horrifyingly scary. Their manservant, Emancipor Reese, is one of the funniest Malazan characters that Erikson has come up with yet, rivaled only, in my opinion, by Tehol Beddict and his manservant Bugg (see Erikson's later novels in the MBotF series). The relationship and dialog between Bauchelain and Emancipor Reese will have you laughing out loud, I guarantee it!

This collection of novellas starts off with Blood Follows and tells the story of a serial murderer killing folks, left and right, in the port city of Lamentable Moll (don't you just love the names that Erikson comes up with?). This is where Bauchelain and Korbal Broach hire Emancipor Reese as their new manservant. In the meantime, just who is killing all of these people, and why? Hmmm...

The second tale follows on the heels of the first, and is entitled, The Lees of Laughter's End and takes place at sea on the ship "Suncurl". But it seems that there's more aboard the "Suncurl" than the crew, Bauchelain, Broach, and Emancipor Reese--something that wants to kill them all! This story rapidly shifts the reader from rolling-on-the-floor humor to sheer terror and horror.

The third and final story in the collection is The Healthy Dead (an oxymoron if I've ever heard one! LOL!), and this one is simply so imaginative it almost boggles the mind. One almost gets the feeling that Erikson is gently poking fun at some of us and our lifestyles today in this tale. By now the reader is probably pretty much ready to expect the completely unexpected from these three daft and slightly nefarious characters, and this story certainly doesn't disappoint.

Personally, you could read this collection at any point in the Malazan series following the third book, Memories of Ice. You could even wait until you are completely done with the series. What is important is that you read this collection of novellas. It is just priceless! A wonderful, slightly evil, but very effective blend of terrific humor and some seriously scary moments of sheer horror! It is a very fast read, with each story easily being read in a single sitting. Finally, it is also my understanding that Erikson is working on more stories or novellas dealing with the exploits and adventures of Bauchelain, Korbal Broach, and Emancipor Reese. I, for one, can't wait!
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