The OF Blog: Review of Steven Erikson's The Lees of Laughter's End

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Review of Steven Erikson's The Lees of Laughter's End

Although The Lees of Laughter's End is the third novella starring the necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach and their manservant Emancipor Reese, it is in chronological sequence the second of the three novellas (Blood Follows being the first; The Healthy Dead the third). It is of a whole with these two, as Erikson manages to showcase once again a very biting satiric wit in the course of telling the story.

Aboard ship stories are rarely enjoyable reads for me, as all too often authors will devolve towards the most inane of stock expressions and "sailor talk." Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to see what Erikson tend to send up the naval talk, as it really made the story much more enjoyable than it would have been if Erikson hadn't played so loose and free with the PoVs and the events.

The Lees of Laughter's End involves various monsters not yet encountered in the Malazan world. Told (and then later shown) in a creepy, stutter-step quick fashion, these creatures are not just slightly redone versions of tentacle-laden krakens. Instead, Erikson uses ties to already-introduced beings, the ever mysterious Warrens, and a sense of cat-and-mouse play with some very, very wry observations that will make most readers chuckle or laugh in surprise during what might otherwise be a ho-drum sort of situation.

Since Erikson has developed his three main characters for this novella beforehand, I would argue that reading at least Blood Follows might serve to make this read here even more enjoyable. The "fishing" scene was really nicely done, but without seeing before what the necromancers have been up to in the course of their travels, it might not be as funny for many readers. But for those of you who have read the other limited-edition novellas, this certainly is on par with them, although I do not know if I would place this higher than the other two, as I see them all as being parts of a piece. But I certainly do recommend this and the other novellas to Erikson fans, as it fleshes out some of the world without giving away too much for the upcoming conflicts.


Anonymous said...

Incidentally, where do you get hold of these novellas? I'm having a really hard time finding them or even Esslemont's Night of Knives... I think Erikson should really look into releasing these novellas as free ebooks a'la Corey Doctrow's "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom". It would atleast allow the rest of us to read and catch up with the story, and maybe a publisher would be convinced there was enough of a market for them and give it wide distribution... maybe as a compilation or something.

Great blog btw... love reading your thoughts and reviews.

Lsrry said...

I usually check Amazon's Marketplace, Alibris, or ABEbooks for the books, prices, and availability. I bought the first one via ABEbooks, the second via Neil Clarke's now-closed online bookstore, Clarkesworld, and the most recent one I found via Amazon's Marketplace, although Alibris had a copy for around the same price ($39).

Perhaps Erikson will consider something like this in the future, but I think he does it this way in part to give fans something "fun" to read while showing gratitude to Peter Crowther of PS Publishing for taking a chance on those stories.

And thanks for the compliments! :D I've been working hard recently to try and get the blog to be more reader-friendly with more reviews and commentaries. Expect more in the coming days, time/energy permitting!

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