Cover Image: A Practical Guide to Conquering the World

A Practical Guide to Conquering the World

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A Practical Guide to Conquering the World is another charmingly irreverent addition to K.J. Parker’s Siege trilogy and oeuvre. Like most of Parker’s heroes, the protagonist of this volume is unwillingly dragged into events and then tap dances around others in a hilariously amoral way. It seems like it could get formulaic, but it doesn’t. I loved this one just as much as the first. Fans of Terry Pratchett's Small Gods might particularly enjoy this one. 

KJ Parker has become one of my favorite authors to recommend to people.
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An absolutely wild ride of a historical fantasy book! This is a wonderful conclusion to the Siege trilogy and is full of Parker's charm, great characters, and top-notch worldbuilding. 

The pacing is excellent in this book, and I never found myself wishing the story would move along. Instead, I found myself taking a minute to enjoy the world, characters, and story. Though this is a serious adult fantasy book, it's sprinkled wonderfully with humor, making it a joy rather than a slog, and with this book, it's definitely about the journey more than the destination. 

While not groundbreaking by any means, this book was extremely enjoyable and a nice change of pace from the enormous tomes we often find ourselves reading in the fantasy genre.
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This is a fun book with excellent writing and an interesting lead hero character. There's a lot of humor in the voice of the narrator. The plot was well constructed and kept me engaged throughout. Glad I read the first two books in this series; otherwise I wouldn't have been able to follow what was going on. Overall I enjoyed this very much and would recommend it to fans of the first two books Sixteen Ways To Defend A Walled City and How To Rule An Empire And Get Away With It.
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DNF @ 18%

The premise is really interesting, particularly the emphasis on translation, language, and culture. But I tend to have some trouble with satire in general (a classic case of "it's not the book, it's me"), and with this book I'm also having some trouble with the humor and the main character's somewhat abrasive personality.
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Thank you to NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I really enjoyed this book.  K.J. Parker's wit shines through the characters in the novel. Though I haven't read the previous books in the series, I still found it easy to pick up and get into. The book was fast paced and I would recommend to those looking for a fun read.
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Felix, a translator at the Robar embassy to the Echman Empire, describes how he conquered the world. Or at least the parts he knows about and considers important. He does have some military experience as a junior officer, but most of the knowledge on which he bases his strategy in dealing with obstacles and opposition comes from his copious reading. He is also fortunate in finding a few invaluable friends. And lucky, though this, he points out, depends upon one’s perspective.
This is ironic fantasy, enlivened by the narrator’s cynical point of view, and its primary purpose is to mock the misguided and self-serving attitudes with which human societies delude themselves. Those with knowledge of earlier empires will identify many features, but all, especially self-deception, remain as forceful and dangerous as ever, as recent events have revealed.
The episodic structure and numerous digressions slow the narrative pace, but they do provide ample opportunities for gleeful satirical commentary on the military mindset, bureaucratic inflexibility, racial prejudice, imperial arrogance, callous exploitation, human credulity, incompetence, and various other targets of the author’s keen wit.
Strongly recommended.
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*Received review copy.**no
There was so much nope on this book that I don’t have the right words.
I thought maybe my issue was that I have not read the previous books. However, how it started won’t change the problems in the story.
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One Sentence Summary: An interpreter in Echmen, Felix suddenly becomes the only Robur left in the world and is taken in by the Hus, but he has a plan that involves more than just the Hus.

Overall
A Practical Guide to Conquering the World is the last book in The Siege trilogy, but can be read as a standalone. It follows the intentional and unintentional consequences of who appears to be the last Robur left in the world’s actions and decisions. Sometimes it felt cleverly choreographed and planned and other times it felt like a snowball effect. Either way, I liked how much the narrator’s bookish knowledge came in handy and how casual he seemed about a lot of things, but I also felt it was impossible to trust him and his motivations. Overall, this was an amusing read with an interesting and kind of 2-dimensional world, but with a narrator I can’t say I actually liked.

Extended Thoughts
Years ago, after a horrible and bloody experience that should have killed him, Felix is sent to the Echmen empire as a translator. Some time after that, he saves the life of a Hus woman, who eventually saves him in return when his people are essentially declared extinct and he’s marked for death. Completely unnecessary and unwanted by the rest of her diplomatic group, Felix finds himself spending the next few years doing little more than reading in the expansive library.

But it comes in handy when the Echmen conquer the Hus, making the woman who saved him queen of the Hus and her people enslaved. In order to free her people and get the rest of the Dejauzi groups (of which the Hus are only one) to conquer the Echmen, Felix must use all the knowledge and resources at his fingertips, but that’s only the start of his story to conquering the world.

A Practical Guide to Conquering the World is the third in The Siege trilogy, but can be read as a standalone. Having only read the second book previously, I’d say that’s fairly true. This third book follows the events of the second, but it’s narrated by a completely different character who didn’t even personally know the narrator of the second book. Considering I don’t accurately remember all the details of the second book, I didn’t feel I really needed them to figure out what was going on in this one.

I was torn between bemusement and exasperation while reading this book. It’s very tongue-in-cheek to me, but tended to rub me the wrong way probably because of how casual Felix treated everything. He had a lot of interesting ideas and a lot of luck, and a quick way with words and the interpretation of those words. It made it a little difficult to figure out if he was being sincere about anything. For much of the book, I just got the feeling he was shrugging everything off while everyone around him kept elevating his importance. I did like how he seemed modest and didn’t demand to be crowned king or anything, but I also couldn’t figure out if he was being sincere and honest or just using the people who suddenly believe in him to get whatever it was he wanted.

Felix was far from my favorite character, which was kind of a shame since he’s the narrator. There were times when he felt like a strategist, times when he felt like a coward, times when he appeared brave, and times when he just didn’t seem to actually care. The reader is only getting his perspective in his own words, so it felt kind of impossible to tell just how truthful he was being. It both drove me nuts and kept me amused. There were times when he appeared to be just doing things so casually, but it all also felt extremely calculated and there where times when he really did seem weary of everything and wanted to escape.

But what I did like about Felix and A Practical Guide to Conquering the World was how much it leaned on history and book knowledge. As a reader, I can certainly identify with Felix’s thirst of knowledge, and I felt this book really encapsulated how important reading is. So much of what he did came from what he learned of history and the world in books. I loved how much of what he did leaned on his book knowledge, and it really seemed to prove to me just how important libraries are.

However, a lot of the good and fortuitous things that happened to Felix and his “people” was down to world building. There are numerous countries and groups of people, all of whom are quite different from each other and have very different beliefs and ways of doing things. What they all had in common, though, was how they never diverted from them. They were steadfast in how they had always done things, so, by knowing what they were going to do because of history, Felix was able to throw wrenches at them to ensure his victory. It became a little annoying after a while that every group just behaved the way Felix expected. But it did nicely highlight the groups Felix worked with and their ability to adapt, trust, and try things a different way despite misgivings. Since the second book was restricted to the City, it was nice to see so many different groups and to explore more of the world. It all felt very 2D because each group never really varied what they had always done, but it was fun to learn the different ways they did things.

As much as Felix and his seemingly sheer luck and true disinterest in correcting people exhausted me, I really liked the Hus queen. Since her people do not freely give their names, she’s mostly referred to as she and her. She’s the one who worked most closely with Felix, who knew more of what he was about and what he was doing than anyone else. I kind of thought of her as his voice of reason, even if he didn’t always listen to her. Still, their relationship was fun and I wish there had been more of it, especially when he was translating for her. It felt almost like a sibling relationship with a lot of sufferance on her part; she could never really change his mind, but at least she could have her input.

Overall, I found A Practical Guide to Conquering the World to be not quite as much fun as the second book, but I appreciated how much book knowledge was used. I also found I couldn’t quite trust Felix and, even by the end, I didn’t feel I trusted him and his motivations. He didn’t really have anything to lose and seemed to have a great deal of luck, though I think a lot of it came down to semantics and interpretation. It was amusing in a tongue-in-cheek way, but not exactly my cup of tea.

Thank you to Angela Man at Orbit and NetGalley for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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The third in K.J. Parker’s The Siege Series. I did not read Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City or How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It. I was told it could be read as a standalone and it was fine. Having read Prosper’s Demon, I was not a fan of Parker’s writing. It could be because I didn’t read it at the right time or wasn’t in the correct mindset for it. This has completely changed my mind. I do not usually get into fantasy that often. I love The Sword of Truth series in it’s entirety and don’t really care for Lord of the Rings. *shrugs* The Witcher is okay but it doesn’t do what a decent space opera or splatterpunk will for me. I think a fantasy story that captures a non fantasy lover is a pretty big deal.

Felix is a Robur translator for the Echmen and learns that his entire race has been destroyed. He has to constantly make himself valued and useful so the Echmen won’t kill him. Being claimed by the Hus princess as their slave, he buys himself a few years and he spends it in the library and eating thrown out food. The Echmen decide they want to enslave the Hus and other barbarian tribes to build a wall for a thousand years. Felix being witty and sly, goes through several obstacles to save these people and takes over all by things he learned from reading books and cunning. Felix founds his own religion and makes everyone faithful followers with theatre tricks.

Now I need to find time to read the first two books of this series and give Prosper’s Demon another chance.
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In K.J. Parker’s A Practical Guide to Conquering the World, Aemilius Felix Boioannes the younger, a translator attached to a diplomatic mission to a powerful empire, suddenly hears that his homeland has been swept by a barbaric race. They have killed off the entire population, destroyed his home and his prospects. He is on his own, without a job or a country or much of anything except for one friend who manages to help him out at critical times. The novel presents the wholly improbable story, in a bit of the spirit of a picaresque tale, of how this nobody, who does have enormous skill with languages, proceeds step by step to conquer the world. 

Parker plunges us into a world that has the feel of ancient Rome about it in a style that is as much deadpan humor as ingenious strategy. Sometimes, Felix’s adventures are funny, as he ascends to near godhood in the eyes of credulous armies, or engrossing as he works his way to victory over one gullible king or priest or queen or brigade of soldiers after another. His narration is completely cynical, full of tricks that break down one icon of his world after another, and never very serious about his ability to manipulate the world until it falls at his feet. He always lets you know that he has a new idea for overcoming impossible odds in his conquests but never describes it ahead of time. So the reader follows the twists and turns of each strategy with increasing admiration for his wit and damn good luck. 

But I had one major problem with this approach. All the cynicism and humor and determinedly hollow characters mean that I could never feel much for either Felix or any of the people he enlists in his project. There are also so many nations to be conquered, lowbrow kings and queens to be unmasked and manipulated, that it all becomes a bit confusing after a while. The effort to sustain a novel, one of a trilogy of stand alone books with the same tone, on the strength of cynicism and a cold distance of the narrator from any human feelings ultimately didn’t work for me. Humor and iconoclasm take me just so far, and I wound up rushing my way through the book to get to its predictable ending.
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In this last book of "The Siege" series, we see the outcome of the fall of the Robur Empire from the perspective of a Robur former soldier now translator, living and working in the Echmen Empire. Felix, our main character, has a sarcastic, droll way of speaking and seeing the world. (Incidentally, he also seems to have quite the luck.....)

Felix is doing his job, minding his own business, when two things happen that shake his world: 1) he saves a young woman, a high-ranking Hus (a group within the larger nomadic group of Dejauzi people) from execution, and 2) the Robur empire falls, brought down by some massive, unknown army.

Felix is out of a job, and thanks to She Stamps Them Flat (the woman he saved from execution), he's taken in by the Hus. Felix spends the next three years translating for the Hus, and reading everything he can get his hands on in the Echmen palace library. And thinking.  

Eventually, Felix intuits the Echmen have nefarious designs on the Dejauzi, and he uses his connection to She Stamps Them Flat, and his understanding of history, to set plans in motion against the Echmen Empire. From there, it’s one incredibly “lucky” victory after another, rallying people with his knowledge (and lies), winning seemingly unwinnable battles against vastly better equipped armies, and becoming known and revered as a prophet, much to Felix’s discomfort. We also get to see what happened with one of the characters in book two, which was a nice surprise.

I have really enjoyed each instalment of this amusing series about war and unexpected, unconventional methods to achieve victories made by unconventional heroes. Felix, like his two predecessors in the series, has luck on his side, but also, because of his unusual background and deep reading, sees connections between things and different ways of handling situations than others around him. I laughed, was surprised, and was impressed with the just plain cool things K.J. Parker did in this book. And loved how important reading was in each of the three books.

So the moral of the series: 1) know your history. And, this one is critical: 2) libraries are the best (just ask Orhan, Notker and Felix.)

Thank you to Netgalley and to Orbit Books for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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I really can’t get over how much fun The Siege novels by K.J. Parker are. They are simply delightful and honestly a little hard to describe. A Practical Guide To Conquering The World is the third story in a set of loosely connected standalone novels by Parker about unlikely individuals achieving military dominance. Book one, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, is told from the POV of an engineer. Book two, How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It, is told by an actor. The third installment, A Practical Guide To Conquering The World, now puts us in the shoes of a translator who ends up in an extraordinary and unprecedented position in this world’s history.

The plots of all of these books are one part nonsensical, one part too real, another part insightful, and a fourth part delightful. Practical in particular focuses on the ‘true story’ of Aemilius Felix Boioannes the younger, a translator with an impressively bad string of luck who ends up leading a religious crusade in self-defense. This is history, and the intended and unintended consequences of his life, the bad stuff he did on purpose, and the good stuff that happened in spite of him. It is, in other words, the tale of a war to end all wars, and the man responsible.

Similar to books one and two, Parker’s authorial voice undergoes an impressive shift into the shoes of a character who processes most things through the lens of how people communicate. Most of the metaphors and themes of the book revolve around translations in both the literal and metaphorical sense, and I continue to be flabbergasted with how far Parker can take these ideas. Nothing ever feels like a stretch and each one of these books makes me think, “wow, translations and languages must be Parker’s one true passion.” The nature of these books continues to be utterly unique and I really cannot think of another series with the same feel as these three gems.

As for the brass tacks of how Practical reads, it’s probably the most enjoyable of the three mechanically. The pacing is lightning quick and always keeps you on your toes with unexpected, yet fitting, twists. The humor continues to be on point with a nice mix of dry observational and situational elements. It is super refreshing to have a creative take on a character involved in religious orders, and I loved what Parker did with the ideas of faith and the divine. The characters are surprisingly memorable, even those with only a few pages of screen time. There was some very interesting play with character motivations and drive that did a great job juxtaposing with a traditional genre story structure that I personally found very refreshing. “What does Felix really want?” is a strange question that sat heavily on me the entire book. Our protagonist is of mixed moral standing with many actions that are unironically abhorrent. I don’t usually go for morally grey protagonists, but most of Felix’s choices did a lot to expand the discussion on central topics and themes in the novel so I think it worked. Felix also doesn’t feel like a character trying to justify the bad things they do, nor does he only do bad things; he is a complicated individual that kept me interested in what he would do next to the end. 

A Practical Guide To Conquering The World has a little bit of closure for the entire Siege series, but I honestly found it the least interesting aspect of the book. The entire thing is a fascinating and creative tale that feels chock full of great abstract humor and fresh versions of classic fantasy scenes. I found Practical both vivid and unique, and though it wasn’t perfect, it definitely is a book that sticks with you. I wish there was a little more clarity around some aspects of the authorial intent, especially in regards to the races of his world and their ties to our real world. I read them as being above board so to speak, but this is an area where I am certainly not an expert. I am curious to hear what anyone else who reads it thinks as well, so please do drop a thought in the comments if you do!

Rating: A Practical Guide To Conquering The World – 8.5/10
-Andrew
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A couple of years ago, I saw someone who doesn’t usually make a fuss about books raving about K.J. Parker’s Sixteen Way to Defend a Walled City. When I saw it on sale, I bought it, but didn’t get around to reading it. And then I saw A Practical Guide to Conquering the World on NetGalley. I thought, this would be a great motivator to actually read a book already on my kindle! Friends, I really wish I had read the first few pages of Walled City when I bought it. I would have saved myself so much time and unpleasantness. I dnf’d that book so fast. But meanwhile, I had this arc sitting on my kindle and I did not want to read it. I have some other arcs on my kindle that I actually do want to read. I dragged myself through A Practical Guide, and I didn’t enjoy it.

By the way, here is the bit that made me close Sixteen Ways and say no thank you to that:

Please note I didn’t come in on the military mail. As Colonel-in-Chief of the Engineers, I’m entitled; but, as a milkface (not supposed to call us that, everybody does, doesn’t bother me, I like milk) it’s accepted that I don’t, because of the distress I might cause to Imperials finding themselves banged up in a coach with me for sixteen hours a day. Not that they’d say anything, of course. The Robur pride themselves on their good manners, and, besides, calling a milkface a milkface is Conduct Prejudicial and can get you court-martialled.

The narrator, an enslaved person, doesn’t mind being called a “milkface” because he likes milk. Nope. Not going to work for me. Please don’t explain to me that this is a fantasy, I am aware.

I admit that I went in already unimpressed. Early on, the narrator, different from the first book, points out that fat people are gross, but this other culture, to which he is indebted for his life, values fatness because it means wealth. Everyone gets a jaundiced treatment in A Practical Guide to Conquering the World. The narrator uses his knowledge of the frailties and stupidity of other people to save his life and the lives of people he considers ignorant barbarians. Right now, I don’t need any help thinking people are awful. And it was just too much cynicism for me. For someone else, this might be an excellent Machiavellian political fantasy novel.

Anyway, I don’t like not liking a book and I’m pretty grumpy about it.

CW: occasional acts of brutality, including castration.

Thank you to Orbit and NetGalley for the advance reader copy. My opinions are my own.
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I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

A man is forced into exile to serve as an interpreter.  Then his home is destroyed, he is forced into servitude to people that despise him, then he has to lead a rebellion, and topple empires.  Plus, he finds religion.  Sorry, I mean, he founded a religion.  Little wonder why his name is Felix (it means lucky).
	
K. J. Parker’s loosely tied-together trilogy “The Siege” reaches its conclusion with A Practical Guide to Conquering the World.  And I do mean loosely tied-together trilogy.  The basic premise is that in the Low Fantasy world there is an empire called the Robur that rules from their capital, the City.  They are cruel and harsh people, think the Roman Empire on a bad day.  So, obviously, they’ve made a lot of enemies that join forces and lay siege.  The novels follow the consequences of that battle.

       Prior knowledge of the first two novels is not really necessary.  There are no returning characters.  Yes, the events of the previous ones will be mentioned, but there are enough context clues to help the reader figure out what they’re missing.  In fact, I skipped the second of the trilogy and found that made this reading experience rather delightful.  Parker plays up the lack of knowledge transmission and how what people are told is rarely what happens, so going in blind kind of helps enhance that aspect.  I knew just as much as Felix did about what happened to the City and the Robur.  

       The narrator, Felix, is engaging.  The man has depths that constantly surprise the reader.  You’re never really sure what his motives are and the reader gets a sense that it is because he’s not really sure what his motives are.  He’s a clever man that puts together scraps of information gleaned from a library and creates amazing strategies and performs seemingly miraculous feats.  His writings are witty and there are moments that caused me to actually laugh aloud.  Also, he’s a total jerk that uses people around him.  

        While Felix is a great character, he’s about the only one.  Every other character in the story is merely a cut-out.  They are there for a while till they are tossed aside after they’ve served their usefulness.  Some don’t even get real names.  While I tend to dislike stories with such an abundance of flat characters, I find myself making an exception here.  Since it is told in the first person, it reads less like a writing flaw and more like a look into Felix’s views on others. 

       What Parker lacks in characters, he more than makes up for it in an engaging look on religion.  Felix becomes the Prophet (a mixture of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus).  The story shows the power that religion has and how it can be abused to serve the needs of the one in control.  Felix’s narration is very cynical on the nature of religion, but as the story goes on some questions are raised.  What is Truth?  If enough people say that he is the Prophet, then does that just make him the Prophet?  What is a miracle?  Sure he did miraculous things because he read them in a book, but the fact he found the right book, understood it, and implemented is rather miraculous.  

        In the end, I found A Practical Guide to Conquering the World to be entertaining, thought-provoking, and a little heartbreaking.  A sure read to anyone who loves a fantasy story that tries to mirror real history, wants to discuss the nature of faith, or just wants to read about a jerk conquering the world thanks to the power of a library card.
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Summary: K.J Parker is a new Terry Pratchett. Felix lost his people but finds new people as he conquers the world and orchestrates a new religion. Don't come for the plot, come for the asides about camels.

You don't need to have read the other Siege books to enjoy this one. I hadn't and I didn't feel like I was missing anything. I love the sardonic, dry humor, asides, and quirkiness of this book and the characters. It's the type of book that's hard to recommend because I think a lot of people might get angry at this book and it seems boring. But here's my advice, it's not about the plot - for the first 30% there's no clear idea what the plot is and even after that, it's a rather meandering, loose plot - or character development. That's not to say the plot or characters are bad, but that's not the point of the book. This book is about other things, and it's about the experience of reading an unreliable narrator who is sharp and cunning and will mislead you and aggravate you but has a lot to tell you in a roundabout way. I really enjoyed this book and want to read some more KJ Parker as soon as possible.

My one con here was that I thought the ending was going to have a little more payoff than it did, but I not convinced that that wasn't intentional.

Thanks to Orbit and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is kinda marketed as Part 3 or a trilogy, and kinda marketed as a stand-alone book set in the world of the Robur. 

But if you didn't read the first two books, several parts of this book will go right over your head.  Since all three books are great, just read all of them.

This book follows the same pattern as the previous two; the narrator is writing his memoirs after a series of events that have changed the world.

This is my only actual complaint about the book, the writing style for each narrator is the same.  I like the style, but makes the series feel more like a series.  In the Black Company series, the narrator changes meant the entire feel of the story changed.  Style, details, plot points, etc., everything felt like a new story.  In this series, everyone writes with the same style, which is a little disappointing.

Highly recommend the series.
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Believing himself to be the sole survivor of his nation, a translator uses his book knowledge to exact revenge, found a new religion, and change the fate of his world. While elements are fun, tie-ins to the real world get clever, and the specific tricks the protagonist pulls out his hat are engrossing, this is ultimately a story about a man who is just smarter and better than everyone else, to the point people begin to believe he's a prophet. APGTCTW copies many of its more interesting elements directly from Parker's other work, along with its flaws. There's a woman treated as somewhere between a daughter and a lover (which, ew), friends who don't really seem to like each other, and this one man who is brilliant but ignored because of an unjust world taking over and fixing things. It was most enjoyable before I decided to read Parker's other work.
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A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K.J. Parker

I had never read anything by KJ Parker before, but I remember Jo Walton speaking fondly about his prior books in this world, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City and How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It, so I was thrilled to get an eARC from Orbit and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Jo Walton described Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City as a “grabby” book - a book that grabs you, that you can grab and not want to put down. This book was definitely grabby, with a fun first person narrator that was not necessarily likable but fun to be in the head of. 

As a former classical studies major, I really appreciated most of the author’s callbacks and references to actual history (those that I picked up on, at least - I’m sure I missed a bunch). 

A few times, towards the end of the novel, some of the coincidences felt a little too contrived, but this is a minor quibble. The book was super fun from start to finish and I wholeheartedly recommend it. I am going to go check out the earlier books by this author soon!
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Summary
An unassuming translator in a far capital finds his entire country has been wiped out, and that he himself has only a tenuous grasp on survival. He sets out to make the best of it, and a little more.
Review

I won’t rehash my overall view of K.J. Parker’s approach. I’ve done that in other reviews. Here, I’ll talk only about this book. In addition, this is the third book in a loosely related series, and I’ve not read the first two, but this does function well as a standalone book.

As always with Parker, the writing is excellent, the tone sardonic but appealing, the hero understated but engaging. As is also often the case, but ever more so here, the book is desperately in need of a map. The plot wanders across countries with abandon, especially in the final third, where we cross half a dozen countries in the span of a few pages, none carefully placed, and with no real sense of where in the world we are. The story clearly takes place in Parker’s larger universe, with recognizable nations like the Aram Chantat and Aram No Vei, but his preference for generic names (the City, the Empire) makes it very hard to place anything in context. He clearly recognizes and makes fun of his own tendencies here, but that doesn’t make things easier. (He also alludes in passing to earlier books such as The Fencer and Devices and Desires.)

As typical with Parker, the main joy here is not so much the plot as the journey – following along with the protagonist as he stumbles (or does he) his way through one difficulty after another. Late in the book, Parker raises some larger questions about intent and self-determination, but then drops them without any kind of resolution. The end of the book in general I found to be something of a letdown. Neither the protagonist’s arc nor that of his nation is really concluded; they both simply fizzle out in a disappointing coda.

Well written and engaging without breaking any new ground. Good for Parker diehards and newcomers; less so for casual fans.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
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This is the third book in The Siege trilogy, but as someone who hasn’t read the other two, I can say that this definitely works as a standalone novel. You don’t have to read the first two, but now I want to. 

Our narrator is an unassuming translator without a home. He’s also an avid reader, a master manipulator of events (but wouldn’t admit it if asked), and a military and political genius (but only if you say so). The book presents an interesting perspective on the truth. Saying more about the plot would be giving things away. 

I very much enjoyed this book. It’s written in casual, funny first person. I laughed, I marvelled at how things fell into place, and I kept turning the pages. Also, one of the characters spends three years in a library with nothing to do but read. It’s every bookworm’s dream! I recommend this one, even if you haven’t read the others. Thank you to Orbit for my copy.
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