The third of Steven Erikson's Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novellas. Chronologically it is set between Blood Follows and The Healthy Dead. There is a UK publication that combines there three novellas in one volume and I understand Tor is publishing one for the US market later this year. I kinda like the Night Shade Books version though, even if they are pretty expensive. The Night Shade edition was delayed for something like six months, it was supposed to be released in December. I must say it was worth the wait.
We pick up the story or the unlucky Emancipor Reese, servant to the two necromancers sometime after they left the city of Lamentable Moll by ship. The crew is decidedly uneasy with their passengers, especially after all the ship's rats disappear. After a series of horrific and hilarious events it turns out that the necromancers may not have been able to outrun their pursuers entirely but the real danger to the ship and crew is of an entirely other nature.
I consider these novellas to be Erikson light reads. The stories are brief and very contained compared to his enormous sprawling novels. They do have that same dark atmosphere but focus much more on the humorous side of Erikson's Malazan work. Mind you, even his humour is dark, it is not something that everybody will appreciate. I think it also helps if you have read at least up to A Memory of Ice, where Bauchelain and Korbal Broach play their part in the siege of Capustan, if you want to get the most out of them.
I must admit I liked The Healthy Dead a bit better but the it still made me laugh out loud in several places. Bauchelain's eloquence when discussing hideous matters is absolutely hilarious, as are Reese's attempts to deny he has any idea what is going on. His attitude helps Mancy the Luckless get into the strangest situations aboard the ship.
The novella has a open ending. It is quite clear that whatever it is the necromancers are trying to outrun isn't going to give up. Erikson has announced there will be three more Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novellas. I am already looking forward to them. Let's hope Night Shade is a bit quicker with their edition next time.
Title: The Lees of Laughter's End
Author: Steven Erikson
Publisher: Night Shade Books
First published: 2007