Title: The Wurms of Blearmouth
Author: Steven Erikson
Series: Bachelain & Korbal Broach #5
Malazan Ultimate Reading Order: #5
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Overview: Tyranny comes in many guises, and tyrants 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 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 leave all that behind and plunge into escapist fantasy of the most irrelevant kind, and in the ragged wake of the tale told in Lees of Laughter’s End, those 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 at the foot of a majestic castle. There they 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, 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. -Goodreads
Wurms of Blearmouth was the weirdest of the three Bachelain and Korbal Broach novellas I’ve read towards my Malazan Ultimate Reading Project, which is saying something because Lees at Laughter’s End was a doozy.
Weird as it may have been, the dense writing, bird’s-eye format, and multiple POVs resembled the main Malazan series the most, so in a way the familiarity made it feel more integrated into the series than novellas 1&3 even though the story was most certainly a tangent. There were a couple of story elements that jumped the shark a bit (going outside what had been established as possible thus far in the series), which made me roll my eyes a few times. I have a hard time with ridiculous elements in books, especially in a series as hard-core as Malazan. This one came close to making me want to put it down, but ultimately pulled me back in with other gritty, interesting elements. There are some things that happen here that have already added substance to the background of Memories of Ice (the next book in the Malazan URO), so overall I’m glad I stuck with it.
But would I recommend it with a kindle price at $11.99 USD for just a short story? Perhaps not strongly unless you’re a completionist like me.
Recommendations: this short story goes a few steps further to solidify the backstory of these side characters within the Malazan world. Because it’s pricey and a bit wild, it’s not as recommendable as Blood Follows (a must-read), so if you’re only planning to read a couple of companion works, stick with that one.
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