The Healthy Dead by Steven Erikson
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Things are going all too well in the city of Quaint. So well, in fact, that something has to be done. The zeal for goodness can be catastrophic, and no-one knows this better than Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, two stalwart champions of all things bad. For the innumerable citizens of Quaint, driven to neurotic distraction and overwhelmed with good living, desperation breeds nefarious bed-mates, and before long the two homicidal necromancers — and their beleaguered and substance-addled manservant, Emancipor Reese — find themselves ensnared in a scheme to bring goodness into disrepute, if not utter ruination. To Reese’s bemusement, laudable motivations are, in a bizarre twist, uncharacteristically relevant to Master Bauchelain, although, of course, the payment of a chest filled with gold helps. Even so, sometimes, it turns out, one must bring down civilization… in the name of civilization.
It took me soooo long to get through this. Part of that was the NaNo Slump, of course, when all of my energy went into writing – and rereading – my project. But part of that was also due to how hard it was to get into this novella.
I did, at last, towards the end, and managed to breeze through it, but finding the will power to read it even when I had the time was difficult, to say the least. That said, I liked it better than The Lees of Laughter’s End, the previous Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novella. But I can’t say I liked it.
Emancipor Reese actually has some very good lines and scenes in this one, partially because he is sober for a good part of it, a state he has been trying to avoid ever since being hired by the titular necromancers. Korbal Broach is barely in it, on the other hand, and the same can be said for Bauchelain.
In fact, most of this novella showcases characters who will probably only appear in this novella. And they were not particularly engaging or sympathetic, to my way of thinking. For one, why on earth would you invite a pair of known necromancers into your city to depose your king? Especially necromancers with the reputation – and aura – of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. For two, later scenes with a lot of them either didn’t interest me or made me like them even less.
In short, 2.5 out of 5, and I am so happy to be getting back to the Malazan novels.