The Wurms of Blearmouth by Steven Erikson

A Malazan Tale of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, Book 5

Synopsis: Tyranny comes in many guises, and tyrants will thrive in palaces and one room hovels, in back alleys and playgrounds. Tyrants abound on the verges of civilization, where disorder frays the rule of civil conduct, and all propriety surrenders to brutal imposition. Millions are made to kneel and yet more millions die horrible deaths in a welter of suffering and misery.

But we’ll leave all that behind as we plunge into escapist fantasy of the most irrelevant kind, and in the ragged wake of the tale told in Lees of Laughter’s End, our most civil adventurers, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, along with their suitably phlegmatic manservant, Emancipor Reese, make gentle landing upon a peaceful beach, beneath a quaint village above the strand and lying at the foot of a majestic castle, and therein make acquaintance with the soft-hearted and generous folk of Spendrugle, which lies at the mouth of the Blear River and falls under the benign rule of the Lord of Wurms in his lovely keep.

Make welcome, then, to Spendrugle’s memorable residents, including the man who should have stayed dead, the woman whose prayers should never have been answered, the tax collector everyone ignores, the ex-husband town militiaman who never married, the beachcomber who lives in his own beard, and the now singular lizard cat who used to be plural, and the girl who likes to pee in your lap. And of course, hovering over all, the denizen of the castle keep, Lord –

Ah, but there lies this tale, and so endeth this blurb, with one last observation: when tyrants collide, they have dinner.

And a good time is had by all.

Review: I do confess that I have never read an Erikson book, but I always wanted to try one. As he is such a big name in fantasy. Now, well I did not exactly start at the beginning. And I have no idea what Bachelain and Korbal have been up to before, but that does not matter. I never felt lost while reading. I just walked into an adventure that began and ended in this novella.

How to even explain this? It’s like Pratchett meets Gormenghast meets something very dark (I have not read those Grim authors yet so I can’t compare). There is dark dry humour, people have silly names and no one is nice. No one. Trust me, they all have their faults. I kept imagining this village as dark, muddy and dirty. Like it was always raining and the sun never shone.

There is a big cast of characters for such a short story. Bauchelain, Korbal and their servant arrive after they have been shipwrecked. And then a lot of others follow them for different reasons (money and more.) And then there is the village and the keep of course. I liked the village, as much as you can like people like that. We have the tax collector, the cat who hates the tax collector, the old guy who lives at the beach and sends travelers to their doom. The woman who owns the brothel, her daughter who wants to become a whore, the constable who sends strangers to the keep to die, the man who is dead but not dead, and of course the Lord of the Keep who is quite the tyrant.

They are all insane, murderous, lecherous killers. But I laughed. There was this one scene with the woman who owns the brothels and trust me, you have not seen that before. Weirdly fun.

This was a fun and rather strange novella. It’s a village that you do not want to venture to, and characters you do not want to meet. So luckily I can read about them and experience them that way instead. And as I have not read Erikson before I have no idea if the rest of his novels are like this. But from what I have seen he might keep this dark humor to B and Korbal’s tales. They are perfect for it.

And I still want to try that first Malazan book to see what this series and world is all about. It was certainly not your average kind of fantasy. But if you like your humour dark and your fantasy world grim then this is for you.

And this is where Melliane usually have her ratings on her blog, but I just can’t do ratings. What is good for me in a rating means it’s awful for someone else. I can not get my head around ratings. So I leave you with my review instead 😉