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Author Topic: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!  (Read 11121 times)

Offline Arry

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The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« on: September 24, 2013, 05:52:34 PM »
I had quotes marked in between my comments for this section, decided to keep them in my comments. :)

Quote
“It all depends on this fucking war”

Well … there goes the country.


Quote
“the winning-side dead are heroes and the losing-side dead were just suckers who deserved it.”


I think my favorite part of this book were Bassano’s letter home (to Basso). Clear portraits of war. I’m a sucker for anti-war sentiment, so I may keep my commentary here brief so I don’t delve into actual politics in the real world. But I think regardless of who you are, what side you are on, Bassano’s simplification of war to “Sides” really sums it up. To me, that is what it comes down to. People fight on the side they happen to be on (much like they happen to follow the religion they happened to be born into), and kill the people on the other side, whose main difference is that they happened to be on an opposing side. People are people everywhere. What side they fight on is a matter of circumstance usually. Sad truth when they humanize the enemy (the “other” side).


Moving on … Basso really seemed to be falling apart this section. It was like he was turning into his father, relying on other people (like General Gnatho) to make really important, strategic decisions. He was asking questions of his advisors, looking to them to make decisions when at any other time he was issuing orders. What caused this change? Had he grown too dependent on Aelius and Antigonus?


Quote
Two sides of the same coin; and there’s no such thing as good or bad luck. Things just happen.


Melsuntha did end up being a spy. I was suspicious of her, mainly because Basso confided in her so much. Do you think Basso would have really not invaded Mavortis if she had spoken against it? I actually think he may have refrained. I think Melsuntha restored some level of humanity to him, perhaps he will find a way to retain it.

And the end? Another stroke of luck for Basso? What do you expect will happen once he starts working in Auxentine?

Quote
“Maybe it’s your lucky day.”

So ... overall, I really enjoyed this book. I don't know what I expected going in, but I do know it likely wasn't this. Great book, story, loved Basso and all his flaws. And I really enjoyed reading a book that seemed to mirror so many modern day conflicts/concerns.

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Offline pornokitsch

Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 06:38:42 PM »
So, what'd you think was the Big Mistake?

(Love the marked quotes.)

Offline eclipse

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 07:35:28 PM »
You can see Basso climbing up the ladder again in Auxentine  :), are we sure his luck not magical?

Bit disappointed that Melsuntha was a spy as you could see it coming from early on unusual for me, would have been better if you thought she was a spy then found out near the end that she wasn't
 
mistake sending Bassano with the army? not banishing his sister from his life what a pain ;)

oh was sad to see Bassano die I thought he had Basso luck with what happened to him in the forest turning a disaster into a victory (funny with the colonel running back to find a higher rank officer)

I forgot which chapter but I think there was a mention of a book called "Adventures in Wonderland"anything to do with Alice or is it a completely different book

Really enjoyed this novel (apart from the later bits with his sister)






« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 08:52:23 PM by Eclipse »
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Offline DBASKLS

Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 08:21:13 PM »
Although I found it a little slow in the middle when the chapters grew in length, I have really enjoyed this book. I really liked Basso, he had a great depth to his character and towards the end some of those letters to Bassano were quite moving.

I agree that Melsuntha turning out to be a spy afterall was a little disappointing and seemed a little weak.

THis was the first K. J. Parker I have read and I'd happily read more. Although I would still question whether it is fantasy it was still a good read!
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Offline Arry

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2013, 10:49:22 PM »

So, what'd you think was the Big Mistake?

Oi! I still can't decide. For some reason, I often feel like it's early, really early in the story. I can't help but wonder if it is actually beating up the sentry for his sister back when he first met Aelius. That was soo early, but if not for that, Aelius may very likely have not been his close advisor. Also, perhaps that event gave him taught him that even if he loses his temper, lashes out violently, that he can still pretty much get away with it. Perhaps experiencing that made it easier somehow for him to murder his wife. Doubtful. I'm just in the mood to propose a long-shot possibility. Something other than murdering his wife or starting the war or using the Hus in Mavortis, sending his much beloved nephew and planned successor to war (this one really messed up his plans) or any of the other potential mistakes. Maybe his mistake was simply being born? *kidding*

Of the non-long shot possibilities, sending Bassano to war is the one I am inclined to pick. At least at the moment.
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Offline AnneLyle

Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2013, 06:51:37 PM »
Melsuntha did end up being a spy. I was suspicious of her, mainly because Basso confided in her so much.

I really expected her to have been involved in the original robbery, back in Chapter 8 or 9, I think - I was surprised when she (apparently) wasn't. But I agree, it wasn't so much of a surprise that she turned out to be a spy after all. Have to say that KJP writes a lot of rather unlikeable female characters! (Based on my admittedly limited experience, i.e. 2 books).

As for Basso's mistake, I wonder if it was the paper money - it made him overconfident about what he could achieve with his accounting genius. I was rather glad his luck turned right at the end, as otherwise it was a pretty downbeat story.

Overall, really enjoyed it and will be putting more KJP on my TBR, though likely won't get around to reading any for a while. Too many other books guilt-tripping me already...
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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2013, 07:57:35 PM »
To be honest it all goes down hill for Basso when he stops being reactive and becomes proactive.  He is lucky but he pushes his luck too far.  I would say for plot reasons that trusting Melsuntha was his BIG MISTAKE, but there again he was pushing his luck as it was.  Yes, he would have got away with it if it hadn't been for that pesky spy of a wife, but for how long?  The Empire was stirring, and you would have thought he would have been caught out at some point.  It reminds me a bit of the film 'The Special Relationship.'  Blair is portrayed as a very dynamic Prime Minister, and then he meets Clinton, who convinces him he needs to think of his legacy.  Once he becomes obsessed with his legacy, then things unravel for Blair, and he starts getting Britain to interfere detrimentally on the foreign stage in first Afghanistan and then Iraq.  That really resonated with me, and I always wondered how close that was to the truth.  Same with Basso, once he becomes obsessed with his legacy, it all starts to unravel.  Maybe the obsession with his legacy is his BIG MISTAKE.

Another point is the ending.  One of the best endings I have ever read in any books.  We think we have been shown the ending at the beginning but really it's all a big tease.  Very, very clever.  Have read 4 KJ Parker books now (all stand alones) and so far this is her Masterpiece for me.   One of the very best books in the genre I have ever read.
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Offline Arry

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2013, 11:54:55 PM »
Same with Basso, once he becomes obsessed with his legacy, it all starts to unravel.  Maybe the obsession with his legacy is his BIG MISTAKE.
I love this theory! I had some thought to this effect while reading, think I even made note of it somewhere (though I did not draw the parallel with Blair), but didn't manage to connect the idea with the MISTAKE

So, scratch my earlier babble. This is what I think his mistake is. Or at least his biggest mistake, the one that is so critical. Now if Basso would recognize it and refer to it as his one mistake himself. Hmmm.... then I am not so sure. So then, I am guessing what his actual biggest mistake is, or what Basso would label as his biggest mistake.

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Offline pornokitsch

Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2013, 09:23:12 AM »
So then, I am guessing what his actual biggest mistake is, or what Basso would label as his biggest mistake.

Really good point! I personally think that his big mistake is at the very end, when he runs away (I did a whole big waffle about this for the Tor reread, so I'll be lazy and link instead of repeating).

But what would Basso think is his big mistake?... that's a really interesting question. Perhaps killing his wife? Sending Bassano to war? Trusting Melsuntha? I'm not sure I've ever wanted to interview a character in a book so much!

Offline Idlewilder

Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2013, 08:19:42 PM »
Just finished, and my head is reeling. Such a phenomenal book. I think the chapter that started with Bassano's final letter and ended with: "When Basso's messenger arrived at the camp, three-quarters of the army was already dead, including the commanding officer, Bassianus Licinius." was not only the best of the book, but one of the most perfectly constructed single chapters I've ever read. Incredible.

I'd say his BIG MISTAKE was in choosing Melsuntha over the noble woman as his second wife. Ultimately proved his downfall.

Here's a question from something which cropped up a while back in the book; we're told of how Bassano is essentially like the weapon at the centre of Basso and his sister's struggle, with each struggling to keep hold of him, trying to use him to their advantage. I was just wondering if, metaphorically: is Bassano the folding knife of the title?
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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2013, 08:24:16 PM »
Just finished, and my head is reeling. Such a phenomenal book. I think the chapter that started with Bassano's final letter and ended with: "When Basso's messenger arrived at the camp, three-quarters of the army was already dead, including the commanding officer, Bassianus Licinius." was not only the best of the book, but one of the most perfectly constructed single chapters I've ever read. Incredible.

I'd say his BIG MISTAKE was in choosing Melsuntha over the noble woman as his second wife. Ultimately proved his downfall.

Here's a question from something which cropped up a while back in the book; we're told of how Bassano is essentially like the weapon at the centre of Basso and his sister's struggle, with each struggling to keep hold of him, trying to use him to their advantage. I was just wondering if, metaphorically: is Bassano the folding knife of the title?

Very good point.  It seems an odd choice of title really since the Folding Knife only actually crops up a couple of times.  And definitely a phenomenal book.  Who else went back and reread the prologue after reading the ending?
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Offline Idlewilder

Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2013, 08:27:36 PM »
Who else went back and reread the prologue after reading the ending?

Just have! Noticed a line which may pertain to the Bassano/Folding Knife idea:

"The folding knife has gone, as quickly, suddenly and irrecoverably as someone dying." - p.2
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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2013, 08:32:25 PM »
Who else went back and reread the prologue after reading the ending?

Just have! Noticed a line which may pertain to the Bassano/Folding Knife idea:

"The folding knife has gone, as quickly, suddenly and irrecoverably as someone dying." - p.2

Brilliant spot!
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Offline Arry

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2013, 09:46:30 PM »
Who else went back and reread the prologue after reading the ending?

Just have! Noticed a line which may pertain to the Bassano/Folding Knife idea:

"The folding knife has gone, as quickly, suddenly and irrecoverably as someone dying." - p.2

I highlighted that line when I read it (but had forgotten about it by the end of the book). :)
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Offline AnneLyle

Re: The Folding Knife Week 4: Finished!
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2013, 09:24:24 AM »
It seems an odd choice of title really since the Folding Knife only actually crops up a couple of times.

Maybe - but it was killing his wife and her lover with the folding knife that really kicked off Basso's troubles. It's no more odd a title than, say, The Blade Itself, which refers only obliquely to the theme of the book.

From memory:

"The blade itself incites to violence." (Homer)

I love titles that hint at the theme, rather that battering you round the head with fantasy buzzwords :)
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