Cover Image: The Long Game

The Long Game

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Member Reviews

This was a good short story from KJ Parker, not my absolute favorite but still very solid. I appreciated having a more prominent female character unlike many of Parker's other works.
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I fell under the spell of Parker's novellas several years ago and am glad to report this one holds up to the high standard I expect of him. I really enjoyed the story right up until the last few pages...and then I fell in love with it! That final twist--let's just say you'll understand why the book is called "The Long Game."

Received via NetGalley.
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I received an eArc of this work in exchange for an honest review, thank you so much to the author, NetGalley, and the publisher Subterranean Press for the opportunity.

I was originally interested in this book as the idea of a clever protagonist who matches wits against a demon had promise for quite a humorous set up. I was hoping for more of Howl's Moving Castle or even some Philip Pullman His Dark Material vibes, but unfortunately I just could not get into the story.

I found the main character quite unlikeable, and while I think the world and magic system were very well explained, the way that the characters spoke and interacted were just not to my taste.
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The Long Game by K. J. Parker


A few months ago I read an eARC of A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K.J. Parker and loved it! It was grabby (in a can’t put this book down kind of way) and it was thoroughly enjoyable. I said I’d be looking out for more books by K. J. Parker and I was thrilled when Subterranean Press granted me an eARC of the Long Game in exchange for an honest review. This was a delightful book! The unnamed protagonist was a scoundrel and not unlike the protagonist of A Practical Guide to Conquering the World. The magic system involving demonic possession was pleasantly reminiscent of Bujold’s Penric books. This novella was a treat from beginning to end!
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I have read KJ Parker’s first two demon books, and this is the third set in the same world. Even as the third, this one felt like it was written earlier as it has a weaker voice and plot than the earlier two. It feels unfinished. Part may be that the point of view is not the demons who are a lot more fun, but everything is just laid out at the end without the MC figuring much of anything out for himself. I probably won’t continue with KJ Parker’s demons but do recommend the first one for anyone who has not read it. All in all, it read as an earlier or recycled draft of his own work without any of the charming or fun snarky moments.
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I enjoyed The Long Game, but not as much as previous Parker novels or novellas.  Much of what appears here feels a lot like Inside Man, and I'm not 100% certain that I even understood the resolution of the story.  Parker's trio of exorcist/demon novellas aren't really my favorite anyway, but that's just my personal opinion; I think they require too much abstract thought for me.

However, don't let this dissuade you.  There is still plenty to love in this book, especially for Parker fans out there.  It's his trademark writing and wit and it wrestles with a lot of interesting themes like good and evil, fraternization with the 'other side', temptation, and whether or not those on oppposite sides can ever be friends.  This deals a lot with exceptions to pre-established rules and codes of conduct.  

I'm a huge Parker fan and will still read anything he writes, even if these three books weren't my favorite.  4 stars.
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I'm coming to love K.J. Parker and his writing.  But I'm afraid this novella just wasn't it *for me*.  I fell in love with his work reading Purple & Black as well as Blue & Gold and will be starting one of his novels soon.  Parker (so far from what I read) is always unpredictable and which is one reason I love his work so much.  I love me a good twist!  

I felt a bit lost while reading this novella and even though I know the ending, I think it would make for a good re-read watching the story unfold.  I encourage all Parker fans to give this a try even though I didn't find this to be for me.
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3.5 stars, a fun if sometimes a bit too twisty novella

KJ Parker has long been one of fantasy's best novella writers and it's evident why even in The Long Game, one of his weaker entries. The Long Game is the story of an unnamed mage adept trying to figure out why a mysterious woman with unfathomable powers is ransacking his house. The narrative voice is strong, the pacing sprightly, and the the characters full of personality. 

It's easy to get sucked into the story of The Long Game even though relatively little happens and the actual importance of the story is deliberately made unclear by the end. This book touts itself as being a return to Parker's comedic writing which is, I think, perhaps the wrong thing to champion in this book. While I don't think it's an unfunny book, the humor is more quirky than funny. You're more likely to knowingly smirk at a line than chuckle at it. 

The only real weakness here though is that the story has several twists which start to pile up on top of each other and don't always feel like they impact the story beyond being a twist for the sake of it. I'd estimate about half of these twists could probably be dropped without affecting the overall story though I do wonder if that would also impact the pacing. However, I think the pacing would have still been fine if it was a bit slower and I'm not a big fan of needless twists so I ultimately docked the novella half a star for that aspect.

If you're a fan of Parker, then this novella is well worth a read. It is quite fun and has some interesting little ideas even if it does like tweaking the reader's nose a bit too much with a few unneeded twists. Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this novella for review.
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My only experience with K.J. Parker prior to this was some of the stories in the anthology Academic Exercises, which gave me an intro to Parker's cynical, sly humor and tendency to mix philosophy and theology with fantasy elements. The Long Game was exactly what I expected and more from Parker.

I love his snide cleverness even as I get why it isn't everyone's cup of tea. The narration in this story is fairly chaotic and jumps frequently between present events and past meetings between the narrator and his friend. The narrator is honestly not a terribly wonderful person but the appeal is similar to Glokta from First Law. You don't enjoy them because they're good people, but because they're interesting.

I haven't read much Parker so I don't have strong comparisons here, but if you enjoy very cynical, very dry humor and grumbly protagonists who think they're quite clever, this is an enjoyable read. I will certainly be picking up more from Parker in the future.
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I just finished The Long Game, the new novella by K. J. Parker, and I liked it a lot. This novella is another of his historical fantasies with a little bit of magic here and there, often with references to the Studium, a college of magic.  There are a lot of twists and turns in this short novella, with interesting discussions on Good vs. Evil and how difficult it can be to distinguish these concepts in reality, along with Parker’s dark humor.  This is Parker writing at the top of his game, and whether you are a long time reader of his or new to his writing, there is plenty to enjoy here.
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Taut, cynical novella about ambition, evil, good, friendship, idealism, corruption, and what happens when you mix all of those together in the person of an world-weary, misanthropic, arch cleric and demon hunter.  I'm not sure if Parker was trying to give a parable about the dangers of associating with the enemy or preaching that the conflict between ideals and friendship is impossible to avoid. Either way, this was a fun read, typical of his novellas.
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The Long Game by K J Parker-Another tale told by an unreliable and unnamed narrator about his dubious heroic feats and exploits. He can look into peoples minds and exorcise any demons, but also has a demon acquaintance on the side. It's the usual snarky, entertaining mix of adventure and intrigue with Parker's usual twists and turns. I found it enjoyable and also much the same as the last three books, but if you're a fan it's a must have.
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Color me disappointed. This felt like an earlier, reworked draft of Prosper's Demon. The writing and concept are very similar. The world is the same. I thought Inside Man and Prosper's Demon were brilliant and original. This one didn't live up to them and added nothing new.

The main character is very unlikable and rather misogynistic. He calls a female character a bitch and a lunatic. I'm starting to wonder what K. J. Parker is like in real life. His characters tend to be self-centered, antisocial, and grumbly. Inside Man had a joke about pronouns that skirted neatly between "he is grumbling about pc culture" and "plausible deniability." I've been reading and believing the best, but at this point I'm stepping off my "K. J. Parker is a brilliant, underrated author!" soap box.

In sum, this was an ok story with ok writing, a problematic main character, and concepts that felt recycled from the author's earlier work.
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We follow an unnamed narrator that belongs to an order tasked with opposing a race of demons that are capable of possessing  people. However, he seems to have a cordial relationship with one of the demons. When he meets Amalasomtha, his life is thrown in disarray. 

In the beginning, I could not understand what was going on. We are thrown in the middle of the world without any explanation of the world nor of the magic. So, I was really confused in the beginning. However, Parker is able to build the world enough without clarifying it through the narrative by the way the characters interact and we are able to grasp how the magic works as it is happening. It is a prime example for showing and not telling. So, even though the beginning is confusing, I felt I was able to catch up.

I really enjoyed the humor and the wittiness of the narrator specially when it comes to his relationship with the demon. And I loved the plot overall, where it started and how it ended and what the title of the book means, hinting at the war between good and evil with neither side ever winning nor losing but everyone playing their parts because they have to. I really liked how the story feels like a chess game and I felt the story really fit the novella format. 

Thank you Netgalley, author, and publisher for the ARC.

PS. I imagined the demon as Luci from Disenchantment and that made it really fun for me.
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This is my first book by this author and it wasn’t even on my radar until I saw it on netgalley. I just thought the premise looked interesting and wanted to give it a try. 

I’m not sure I knew what was happening here for quite a while after I started reading. The writing style of the unnamed narrator talking to us was unique; the tone of the writing was quite humorous but it also felt like the author was trying too hard sometimes or being a bit condescending. There was also too much infordumping happening and I couldn’t grasp a lot of the information because it’s too short of a novella to understand everything. 

What I did end up liking was the kind of friendship that had developed between the narrator and the demon over the years and how they both keep trying to help each other but put up a pretense that they are reluctant to do so. I also thought the whole discussion about “The Long Game” was fascinating - how is a war between good and evil, even if there are no true winners and losers, everyone is obligated to keep the fight going because that’s how it’s supposed to be. I feel like I’m not explaining it well but it was a cool discussion towards the end of the book and that’s what made me close this novella with not too much of a disappointment. 

In conclusion, I don’t know what I was expecting from this book but it just wasn’t my kind of story or narration. Maybe if you’ve read the author’s previous works and liked the style,  or just enjoy flippant and tongue-in-cheek kind of writing, this might be your cup of tea. So while I did end up feeling ok about it and it left me thinking a bit, there were also a couple of moments where I felt uncomfortable and I’m not sure how to articulate that. Overall, it just wasn’t for me and I probably won’t find it too memorable.
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DNF at 27%

This was my first time trying something by Parker but unfortunately the writing style really wasn't working for me. It's a fantasy novella from the perspective of a cleric who apparently has befriended an alien or demon or something that burrows into people's minds? I found the narrative style to be too chaotic for my taste and the tone somewhat condescending. I also don't love that our perspective character comes of as a bit of a misogynist and the world setup is where mostly men are magical adepts while women mostly are just able to have babies. (yes, that's actually in the text) And maybe the book ends up subverting that and maybe if I liked anything else about it I would keep going, but I already wasn't getting on with the writing style and found that tidbit eye-roll worthy. I think this is not the one for me. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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An engaging, appealing read that faltered against the context of the author's other work. I always find Parker's snide, talented protagonists amusing and rich in personality but I thought this particular entry into his body of work repeated a lot of his previous plot conceits and character trappings and was therefore a bit underwhelming.
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I keep coming back to this series by this writer because it's just so well done. There isn't much else to say about it. The idea that good versus evil is a long game that neither side wins but neither side loses is at the core of this story. You could look at what the writer has done with the other books and see how he keeps building on what came before it. But here's the trick, each story is a stand alone story that loosely connects to the previous stories. That way a new reader does not have to know everything that came before it. For those who have read the other stories this just adds to the enjoyment of the series. It's a win-win situation for everyone.
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I have an affinity for K.J parker.  Thanks to KJ and Netgalley for a free Arc on a favorite author of mine.

I read the novella really quickly and it was a interesting read.   Sometimes i wish Parker would be a little less wordy, not so much on his descriptions but peoples names and titles...lol.  it makes for a little of  mouthful mentally when reading  a story and its repeated over and over.

The concept was interesting and the demon possessions made for unique story.  I would actually like to see more from this storyline.
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There’s a lot of humor in this short little fantasy piece about an unnamed magical cleric (?) and the demon he’s sworn to fight, but instead is pretty buddy-buddy with. I liked the pacing and the dialogue a lot. The cover - not so much - it reminds me a lot of The Royal Diaries series that I read in middle school, like [book:Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba, Angola, Africa, 1595|440125].

I voluntarily obtained a digital version of this book free from Netgalley and Subterranean Press in exchange for an honest review.
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