Steven Erikson The Healthy Dead Reviewed by Rick Kleffel

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The Healthy Dead

Steven Erikson

PS Publishing

UK Hardcover First Edition

ISBN 1-904-61909-6

Publication Date: 06-01-2004

103 Pages; £25.00/$40.00

Date Reviewed: 08-26-04

Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2004



Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction

05-02-02, 05-30-02, 12-13-02, 01-27-03, 03-26-03

Steven Erikson has created the world of his Malazan Empire so thoroughly, so completely, that he can write a series of light-hearted satiric adventures set in it that have the same impact they might have had they been set in the so-called real world. 'The Healthy Dead' is a sequel to the wildly popular 'Blood Follows', and once again, our heroes, Bauchelain, Korbal Broach and Emancipor Reese are on hand to stir up trouble. Having made a hasty exit from the scene of their last little escapade, Bauchelain, Broach and Reese find themselves outside the city of Quaint. It is anything but before their arrival, and it will certainly be much less so after.

The problem is that Quaint has become so good under the tutelage of King Macrotus the Overwhelmingly Considerate that the fabric of civilization itself is threatened. It will come as no surprise that in order to save civilization, Bauchelain, Broach and Reese will have to destroy it. The vices personified are withering away in an alley. Lust, Envy, Greed and their friends are about to starve to death. But under the Overwhelmingly Considerate kingship of Macrotus, life itself is about to starve to death. It's not hard for Reese and his demonic and sorcerous allies to tilt the balance. But it's overwhelmingly fun for the reader, unless of course, you are one of the "lifestyle fascists" that Erikson warns not to read this. In which case you richly deserve it.

What follows are a series of escalating scenes of antic satire and awesome grotesquerie. In the space of less than a hundred pages -- a couple of hours of reading -- Erikson manages an incisive parody of our culture while creating another in an imaginative fantasy. No reader can experience these pages without feeling the full force of the entire series looming in the background, lending matter a depth and precision that's far beyond what is achieved in a 500 page novel.

Erikson's characters and dialogue are delightful. His creatures have an organic, in-your-face feel. They're not gross or disgusting just sweatily real. His humans also have that sweaty, slightly unpleasant reality about them. You can almost smell them.

And you know, you'll want to smell them again. Erikson does exactly what every writer strives their best to do. In 'The Healthy Dead', he leaves you wanting more. Though he leaves you wanting less overwhelming consideration, to be sure.