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Blood Follows

Steve Erikson

PS Publishing

UK Hardcover First

ISBN 1-902-880-35-8

Publication Date: 03-2002

90 Pages; £25;$40

Date Reviewed: 06-18-02

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 2002



Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Mystery

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

Sometimes, who gets published where and why remain enshrouded in mystery. Steve Erikson is the author of three acclaimed fantasy novels that are not and never were available in US editions, despite the popularity of 'The Lord of The Rings' and 'A Song of Ice and Fire'. Now, all of them are hard to find, and I only just managed to do so shortly before 'Blood Follows' arrived. If the novella is any indication of the quality of the novels, then I should be in for a treat. 'Blood Follows' is a horrific mystery set in Lamentable Moll, which is part of the world created by Erikson for 'Malazan Tales of the Fallen'. But not part of the series, and it takes place adjacent to the Empire that presumably rules in those novels. Stephen R. Donaldson provides the introduction, which is helpfully informative, but not overly so, but don't hold that against Erikson. 'Blood Follows' is a well-written, heavily textured tale set in a fascinating natural and supernatural environment.

As 'Blood Follows' begins, a killer is loose in Lamentable Moll, and as a result, Emancipor Reese is out of a job -- his boss was murdered. He finds another job, but his employers are out-of-towners with sinister habits. His beloved wife is after him to keep the money coming, the town sergeant is after him in looking for the killer, and something entirely supernatural is manifesting itself in most unpleasant ways. The plot if fairly simple, and that's good given the length of the narrative. However, the scenario behind the plot is very complex, sophisticated and well developed. The combination makes for a rich if sometimes pleasingly disorienting reading experience.

Erikson's characters quickly seem complex and realistic, detailed in just the correct ways to breathe life into what could be fantasy stereotypes. His world is what makes this novella interesting, however. It has the dense feel of textured reality, with a lot of supernatural events and creatures taken entirely for granted. These created creep in to the edges of the narrative, pop up in center stage, pass overhead trailing an almost unintelligible message. Erikson presides over the kind of controlled chaos that zooms past the reader and suggests a lot more than is directly referred to. The experience of reading this novella is akin to reading a much longer work that might have seemed slack and padded. Instead we get a streamlined bullet of atmosphere, action and character.

Erikson's mix of the heavily supernatural and graphically gory, like something from a horror novel, may disconcert some readers expecting a pure form of fantasy. But readers who like Mieville and the previous PS Publishing release, Paul Di Filippo's 'A Year In The Linear City', are likely to enjoy this. If you're wondering whether or not you should crank up your search engines and locate his other novels, this novella will certainly hold the answer to your question. For this reader, the answer was an enthusiastic 'Yes!'.