Steven Erikson – The Lees Of Laughter’s End

The advantage of writing a series is of novellas is that the format to make sure they can stand on their own. Why else make the effort to do so? If they are to open ended one could better put them together as one book. Steven Erikson made good use of this advantage for the second tale in The Collected Tales Of Bauchelain And Korbal Broach (2010), especially as it was the third tale he wrote, five years after the first. The Lees Of Laughter’s End (2007) is in the timeline an immediate sequel to the first novella Blood Follows, but one could read it without having read the previous tale. That one doesn’t miss anything is all because of Erikson’ superb storytelling abilities, not to mention the wonderful title for this novella.

Even more marvelous is how Erikson tells a story that is even more than before confined to a limited location and again with its large cast of unique characters. I find it impressive how he manages to give any side character with a few words and actions an original feeling to him or her. Certainly when he has so few pages to make use of them, he still manages to provide the reader with a rich and detailed story. Obviously the pace is rapid but not too fast. He is completely in control.

The theme of the tales is darker, creepier and gloomier than the Malazan novels but this is compensated by an excellent show of black comedy. Sometimes he threads a bit too much in the field of slapstick with events becoming more silly than funny, but you know he has had a good time writing the stuff.

Although this tale sometimes goes a bit too crazy it is the best of three novellas in the collection (I can say so already as I’ve read them all already). While knowing I still had a third one to read, I also hoped Erikson would continue writing stories taking place in the Malazan universe now that he has completed that main series. I’m still lucky I have the final installment still to read as I’m waiting for the paperback edition. This novella is certainly highly recommended.

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