What a book!

February 13, 2010

Swords and smithcraft, with some moral ambiguity thrown in

Filed under: Fantasy,K.J. Parker — mike @ 4:26 pm
Tags: ,

Boy, this book took me forever to read, although it is not necessarily the fault of the book. Just had other things to do.

Interesting fantasy world K.J. Parker has set up here in “Colours In The Steel,” book one of The Fencer Trilogy. An apparently impregnable, prosperous city, center of the empire. Matters of law are settled by fencers, who are lawyers, but they don’t fence with words, they literally fence, with the case decided by which lawyer (fencer) lives and which one dies. Magic in this world, like so many other things, are a bit of a fraud, although that it exists is understood fully by the ones thought to practice it.

There is humor, but it is dark. And while there are some people you’d classify as “good,” they aren’t exactly saving the day. And while plenty of the people here do bad things, or have done bad things, they aren’t really “bad” people.

Anyway, the characters here are interesting takes on the grizzled old soldier, the young assistant, the vengeful young warrior, etc.

Some of the “magical” coincidences seemed a little to coincidental for my taste, but they still make sense in the logic the story presents. A rich fantasy world well-written, if a bit slow at times.

If you like military fantasy or are into technical details, plenty of that here. The siege and battles in the book are quite well-detailed and the minutiae of siege engine construction and weapons forging are interesting and concise, although you won’t (thankfully) get descriptions of Tom Clancy-esque proportions.

One big misstep though was there was no map. A fantasy book should always, always, always have a map, although there is very little traveling in this book, so maybe one was deemed unnecessary or if it’s just the edition I had. Yes, I have an imagination, and it was fun to build the city and surrounding lands in my mind, but I still like maps. Perhaps subsequent books in the trilogy have it.

If you like sharp, intelligent, darkish fantasy with a minimum of magic, little people and fanciful characters, then you’d like this book.

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