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Issue #124 - December 2005

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Guld of the Guard

By Cheryl Morgan

One of my biggest regrets about Emerald City is how few American readers are able to purchase the fine books by PS Publishing that I review. Good quality specialist SF bookstores will, of course, get them for you, and online stores such as The Aust Gate will ship them from the UK, but what we really need is either a distribution deal or for someone in the US to publish them. Congratulations, therefore, to Night Shade Books for making available the first in Steven Eriksonís Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novellas, Blood Follows.

US readers should by now be familiar with Eriksonís Malazan Empire books. Also some of you may remember my review of the other novella in the series, The Healthy Dead. Blood Follows is, as far as I can make out, the first book in which the nefarious pair of sorcerers appear. Certainly it is the book in which they first hire the unfortunate Emancipor Reese. The story goes something like this.

The city of Lamentable Moll is gripped by fear. Each night some new and more dastardly murder is committed. The murderer is never seen, but his victim, brutally dismembered, is always left somewhere public. Naturally the King has asked for Guld of the Guard, the cityís best detective, to be assigned to the case. But Sergeant Guld soon learns that there is sorcery at work. Foul necromancy, to be precise.

Meanwhile, Emancipor Reese is out of work again. His most recent employer, the merchant Baltro, has become the latest victim of the serial killer who is stalking the city. Not wishing to suffer more than a dayís scolding from his wife, Subly, for his laziness in failing to find a new source of income, Reese is happy to jump at the first opportunity that comes his way, even if the gentlemen who are looking for a manservant do seem decidedly strange.

Guld, of course, will track down his quarry eventually. He is too smart not to spot the clues eventually. Though apprehending the villain might prove more difficult, especially when everyone from a mysterious barbarian swordsman, the Moral Sword of one of the cityís temples, a princess with eccentric tastes and even the cityís rat catchers seem to want to do his job for him. Emancipor Reese, on the other hand, is not stupid and has far more access to the clues, and it doesnít bear thinking about what Subly will say if he loses this fantastically lucrative job so quickly.

I didnít find Blood Follows anywhere near as funny as The Healthy Dead, though perhaps that is because I live in a part of the world so like the unfortunate city of Quaint. But it is certainly good fun, and it is probably better if you read the two books in order. Iím sure that Night Shade will be publishing The Healthy Dead soon.

Blood Follows - Steven Erikson - Night Shade Books - hardcover

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Emerald City - copyright Cheryl Morgan - cheryl@emcit.com
Masthead Art copyright Steven Stahlberg (left) and Gerhard Hoeberth (right)
Additional artwork by Frank Wu & Sue Mason
Designed by Tony Geer
Copyright of individual articles remains with their authors
Editorial assistants: Anne K.G. Murphy & Kevin Standlee