The Lees of Laughter’s End by Steven Erikson (Book Review)

The Lees of Laughter's End (The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, #3)The Lees of Laughter’s End by Steven Erikson

What this book is about (it’s suggested that you first read the first novella of the series, Blood Follows):

Mysterious sorcerer Bauchelain and his creepy eunuch companion Korbal Broach are travelling on the ship Suncurl with their new mancervant, famous for his bad luck, Emancipor Reese. When the ship approached the lees of Laughter’s End things start to go bad. The crew is being attacked and some are claiming that she ship is haunted. There is definitely something eerie lurking in the dark and many will not live to see the light of day..


The Lees of Laughter’s End is the third book in the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach series and is a novella of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. The novellas and the main books are all written by Steven Erikson. This one was similar to the first novella that I read named Blood Follows. I will get into more details below but first I want to say that I really enjoyed The Lees of Laughter’s End. I don’t know if it was because it takes place on a ship, and lately I’ve been reading and enjoying books about ships or pirates a lot, but I found this short story very interesting, dark, disgusting and in general very, very entertaining.

Lust and death this night, the murderous charade of love and treasures plundered! Oh, utopian circumstance as like a philosopher’s wet aspiration – yes, all the dancers pause as if pinned through their free feet by dread spikes of reason! Exalted music of procreation! The Luckless fool has perchance undone us all – must we bless the sackless madman and his lurking lurker in the locked trunk? But no, warded indeed is that child – by none other than the one lost to all cogency!


The plot
As I already mentioned, this story takes place on the ship and the storyline takes on a mystery but mostly horror shape as we progress through the novella. It was very interesting how Erikson slowly knits a peak of gore, sex and blood as Suncurl, the ship, gets closer and closer to the lees of Laughter’s End. The monstrocities that come alive spread pools of blood while the crew is trying to survive the night. I always enjoy a creepy story before bedtime and this one did a good job in that part!

One scream. Breath held, heart stilled. What comes?
Now, an eruption of screams. From three throats. Well that is indeed…different.


The characters
In this story the three main characters, Bauchelain, Korbal Broach and Emancipor Reese were a little less present than in Blood Follows. There were many secondary characters that were interesting to follow with different personalities, motives and reasoning. Here we see more of Korbal Broach since his presence is more prominent and he is actually seen by the crew a few times fishing! Bauchelain still holds this aura of mystery, wisdom and insanity tightly wrapped around him and poor, luckless ‘Mancy who is trying to survive and at the same time keep his sanity while he realises day by day that his employers are not what he expected.

‘Life is like a clam,’ Bird Mottle’s father once told her. ‘Years filtering shit then some bastard cracks you open and scrapes you into its damned mouth. End of story, precious pearl, end of story.’


The writing style
Steven Erikson can write brilliant descriptions of events and places in such minute details that you feel totally emerged into this damned world of his. Since this is a novella, you won’t find lengthy paragraphs of detailed descriptions that go on and on. Erikson has put the exact amount of words to create the perfect “vibe” in the book. But of course, you can’t expect Erikson to write something humourless. There are quite a few funny moments and lines in The Lees of Laughter’s End but the humour is dark and used to relieve the tension while reading some of the horrid events. Moreover, Erikson uses a multiple point of view from various characters’ perspectives and enriches the story in a way that makes this novella feel full of events and action in just around 120 pages.


I’ve said it before already for the previous novella that I read Blood Follows and I will say the same thing again for this one. I strongly recommend that if you are taking up the Malazan series project you check these short stories out. They are worth it in my opinion. A short taste of Erikson’s awesomeness without diving into something too chunky and demanding. They are small, funny, lighter and easier and I definitely enjoyed the two I’ve read so far.

I’m a BookDepository affiliate. If you want to buy a book and use my link I’ll get a small referral commission. You can find the version of the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach book which is a bind up of three short stories including: Blood FollowsThe Lees of Laughter’s End, and The Healthy Dead here:

The First Collected Tales of Bauchelain & Korbal Broach

View all my reviews

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