Sunday, January 29, 2012

Blood Follows - Steven Erikson

Blood Follows (2002) is the first novella in a series of stories centred around the characters of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. These two made their first appearance in Memories of Ice (2001) where, among other things, they have a memorable confrontations with Quick Ben. So far, four novella's has been published and it was recently announced that Erikson has delivered the manuscript for a fifth, titled The Wurms of Blearmouth, to PS Publishing. To my knowledge no publication date has been announced yet. All of the novellas are set well before events in Memories of Ice and can be read independently from the novels. Personally I think have read up to Memories of Ice is a bonus though.

All of these novellas were published in small numbers by PS Publishing in the UK. The first three received a similar treatment in the US from Night Shade Books. I own a copy of the Night Shade Books edition of Blood Follows and it is an absolutely wonderful little hardcover. It was published in 2005 and includes a cover and interior art by Mike Dringenberg. It doesn't look like Night Shade Books will be publishing more of these however. An omnibus edition of the fist three novellas has appeared from Tor books in trade paperback in 2009 and they have published the fourth separately as well. Which is more than a bit unusual for Tor, they tend to prefer longer works. Now if you just want to read the text, you're probably better off with the much more affordable Tor editions but I have fallen in love with these limited editions. I'll be keeping an eye out for the PS edition of The Wurms of Blearmouth for sure.

In the port city of Lamentable Moll, Emancipor 'Mancy' Reese has just met with an stroke of bad luck. His most recent employer joins a line of prematurely deceased masters Mancy has served when he falls victim to a serial killer that has haunted the city for eleven nights. His wife, for whom social status is all important, is less than thrilled with the news. She demands he finds a new job immediately. This, of course, is more easily said than done but a notice of a gentleman looking for a manservant looks promising. Thus Mancy the Luckless makes the acquaintance of Korbal Broach.

Humour has always been an ingredient of Erikson's Malazan books but in these novellas they take the centre stage. Mancy is something of an anti-hero, one of those character where no matter what they try, you'll know they'll end up messing it up. His employers keep dying, his children are most likely not his own, his wife terrorizes him. Luckless doesn't begin to describe his misfortune. All of this he carries with an kind of resignation that adds to the comical effect. The Germans would call is schadenfreude I suppose. On the other hand we have two very competent charters, not used to failure. Sergeant Guld, the man investigating the gruesome murders that have been causing so much unrest in the city and of course Korbal Broach himself. Not surprisingly, Mancy finds himself caught between these intellects soon enough.

These novellas are generally much lighter reading than the enormously complex Malazan novels. I enjoyed this first Bauchelain and Korbal Broach a lot but when you get right down to it, they novella suffers form a problem that many other works of this length encounter as well. The number of words spend on it, don't really seems sufficient to do the story justice. The end is quite abrupt, maybe a little rushed. The introduction of the pursuer of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach could have used a bit more attention too I think. It's lean, dark and humorous. I enjoyed reading it but don't go into this novella expecting the same level of complexity or tragedy the Malazan series has to offer. They are written to highlight an other side of Erikson's writing and as such they are good reading.

Book Details
Title: Blood Follows
Author: Steven Erikson
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Pages: 121
Year: 2005
Language: English
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 1-597800-04-X
First published: 2002


  1. Sounds good to me! *adds to basket*
    I'm so slow with the Malazan series...still ploughing through Memories of Ice, am enjoying it but it's just...too huge!

  2. That's why I like these novellas. They are clearly Erikson but not such enormous, time consuming reads as his novels. I must admit I haven't read the fourth though.