How To Rule An Empire and Get Away With It — K. J. Parker

The follow-up to Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City: which is a really good book.   If you haven’t read that already then you really should before embarking upon this quest as this follows immediately on from that story.

And, seriously, once you’ve read and totally enjoyed Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City you’ll be very pleased to know that this is just as good as that was.   K.J. is as brilliantly absurd in his story telling in this as the previous book.

Yes, the siege is still going on and nothing much has changed but, instead of our story being told by a disgruntled military engineer, we’re now treated to a story told by a disgruntled playwright who does some acting on the side — who is obviously much better at telling stories and also pretending to be people who he isn’t: now what could be better than that, eh?

So if you haven’t tried K.J.’s writing yet, these two books are a great place to begin.   You’d have to be a proper grump not to enjoy them.

K. J. Parker’s Page Tom Holt’s Page

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The Book of Swords — Anthology

The Best Man Wins — K. J. Parker
Her Father’s Sword — Robin Hobb
The Hidden Girl — Ken Liu
The Sword of Destiny — Matthew Hughes
“I am a Handsome Man,” said Apollo Crow — Kate Elliott
The Triumph of Virtue — Walter Jon Williams
The Mocking Tower — Daniel Abraham
Hrunting — C. J. Cherryh
A Long, Cold Trail — Garth Nix
When I was a Highway Man — Ellen Kushner
The Smoke of Gold is Glory — Scott Lynch
The Colgrid Conundrum — Rich Larson
The King’s Evil — Elizabeth Bear
Waterfalling — Lavie Tidhar
The Sword Tyraste — Cecelia Holland
The Sons of the Dragon — George R. R. Martin

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Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City — K. J. Parker

This is another one of those books that i judged by its cover and title, and the fact that it was 99p in a Kindle deal certainly didn’t do it any harm in getting me to purchase it.   Was it worth it?   Oh yeah, very much worth every single one of those 99 pennies — and then some.

Although listed as fantasy, don’t be expecting any wizards, elves or things magical, it isn’t that kind of fantasy.   It’s the kind of fantasy of a completely different place with big walled cities that keep those in power nice and secure and those not in power kept well out of it, well away and firmly under the boot heel.   Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City is very much the story of the downtrodden of this world, a world ruled by people with dark blue skin, the Robur, where people with lighter skin are oppressed.

Telling this story is the colonel in charge of the Robur army’s engineers, Orhan, who, much to the chagrin of the Robur, just happens to be one of those light skinned “Milkface” types who only got the job through pure luck and because he’s very good at building bridges and fiddling the regimental accounts.

And this is the story of how Orhan suddenly finds himself in charge of defending a walled city against hoards of other pale skinned, Milkface savages on behalf of his Robur rulers.

From the very beginning one can’t help but really like Orhan.   He has a very amusing, sarastic world view fuelled by an intelligence fitting with being a military engineer, and is certainly one of the most enjoyable narrators of any story i can think of from recent memory.

As an ex army engineer myself i really got into Orhan’s attitude to it all: shouldn’t the real soldiers be doing all this horrible nasty fighting and killing stuff while we just fix and build things?

This was my first K. J. Parker/Tom Holt book and i’m certainly going to be reading more books from him.   Great style, great editing, great characters, great all round writing.

And i just found there’s a follow-up to this wonderful yarn: How To Rule An Empire and Get Away With It

K. J. Parker’s Page Tom Holt’s Page

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