November 25, 2020, 08:02:12 AM

Author Topic: KJ Parker  (Read 20417 times)

Offline Nighteyes

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Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #75 on: April 12, 2020, 12:10:10 PM »
The ending of Sixteen Ways to Defend a City was rather abrupt and dare I say it felt rather rushed. But I did like the post script being 1000 years later plus all the references to an alternative Roman history: the eruption of volcano destroying a city, the new fangled religion where the messiah is resurrected after 3 days.

Overall loved it. Loved his ingenious solutions to defend the city - classic Parker.  Not as amazing as Folding Knife but still very good. I really need to read one of his trilogies now rather than just his standalones.
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Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #76 on: May 10, 2020, 04:40:50 PM »
Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City discussion below. I fully intend to misspell every character's name btw:

Spoiler for Hiden:
Unreliable Narrator: This was given perhaps a little bit of screen time in the first chapter, then maybe once or twice throughout the remainder of the novel. However, the ending precipitates on proper execution of this writing method. I didn't see it coming. There's no build up to it. It is abrupt, sudden, and becomes the major theme of the book over any other theme, as it dominates any other story for the narrator, plot, and theme. The commentary section tries to hand-wave some of the concerns that will naturally arise for the reader, but this is poorly done and feels forced. Even if it was properly build up to, it is not fleshed out in any fashion (see Lyochandis below), nor does it have any depth or true impact on the story.

Plot: I was able to stomach much of the sudden, loosely termed deus ex machina moments -- ala the underground river, the bay blockade, and especially the Necklace to name a few. These moments are just happy little plot accidents that serve as a way to make the narrator seem better than he actually is because "here's a way to solve the plot that has been given no screentime prior to this." Coupled with the unreliable narrator, it might work in some instances, but poorly in this heavy handed fashion. This book's approach to plot is the opposite of Chekov's Gun, and I was able to swallow that in some instances. However, the entirety of the plot, the basis for Orhun's character arc and the primary theme of the novel centers around the engineer's selfless sacrifice and the tension therein, which is perhaps stupid, but this is the foundation upon which the plot believably moves forward. Cue the Fleet. The Fleet, its captains, and the perhaps ten pages left, completely unravels any build up for a final resolution so the unreliable narrator trope can be hammered home further. Everything that was done the 300 pages prior? Worthless. And solely because the author wanted to hammer home -- though he hadn't throughout the remainder of the story -- that Orhun was worthless, unreliable, and this story doesn't deserve a healthy plot resolution, but a kick in the teeth for literary's sake. Again, it's a hand wave for the sake of a new theme we don't see coming.

Character Arcs: Orhun's character arc is flipped on its head within the final ten pages. Ogus? He's forgotten and nothing is resolved. Faustinius, Aeta, the others? Nothing. Nothing at all. While they didn't receive that much character development, their relationship with the narrator -- which is one of the more important aspects of first person narration -- is hung to dry with no resolution. The arc with Lyocandis and his heroic interaction with the city? Build up thrown away. If this had been tied with the unreliable narrator, it might have been a little better, but again, the plot and character arcs are rushed for the sake of a theme thrown from left field. It's rough, childish writing that should have received 20 or more so pages to fully flesh out this trope.

I'm not going to touch on the rambling writing style, the nonsensical chapter structure at the end, or the muddled themes throughout. They are their own problems that might be solely up to taste.
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Offline cupiscent

Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #77 on: May 11, 2020, 01:28:18 AM »
Thanks so much for bringing your more details thoughts! They were really interesting to read and think about.

I don't know that anyone who's going to be reading here will have not read the book yet, but just in case, I'll go behind spoiler-cut as well :D

Spoiler for Hiden:
I guess I feel that the unreliable-narrator theme was far more comprehensively explored. For mine, it's in there every time Orhan goes, "Oh, I haven't told you about that" and every time he's caught in a "well, right, guess I'd better tell you about...". For me, there's a lot of implicit unreliability built into the very style of the storytelling - that chatty first person, for me, raises the inherent questions of "why are you telling me this, what is your agenda, what are you therefore not telling me?" so I'm already on the look-out for all the tiny signs.

And that feeds into the deus-ex-machina elements. Because Orhan's telling the story, he's occluding and structuring things to make himself look better. Though also, for me... this was a story about Orhan, and the actual siege was a secondary thing, so I didn't want to spend time on the technicalities of it away from what it means to and for Orhan. But that is obviously going to be a thing that readers find subjectively more or less effective.

That's probably also why the ending wasn't as disappointing for me as it was for others - the finale drama is Orhan's internal stuff, with the Fleet arriving and yes he's saved the city but he's still a worthless "milkface". He's relieved of command, brushed aside, and after everything that he's done as well. I'm fascinated by the unresolved elements of the ending. Was he trying to defect/flee the city when he was shot? And he announces his intent to send this memoir to Ogus - is he saying Ogus was right? Does he want Ogus to understand? Has he changed his mind and is trying to incite Ogus to go again? For me, the fact that all of these are questions rather than answered is part of the strength of the whole piece, speaking to all the mysteries that cluster in the margins of "recorded" history.

I'm also really interested, as previously noted, to see how Parker's next book intersects with this one.

I want to stress, I'm not saying "you're wrong" - I love to see and hear differing opinions on books because they must always be such a subjective experience and it's really interesting to hear more about other experiences!

Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #78 on: June 22, 2020, 08:11:48 AM »
Hmhh. Based on my preferences do people here think I'll like Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City and The Folding Knife? I'm looking for new books to order and these popped up in my mind.

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Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #79 on: June 22, 2020, 09:39:36 AM »
I listened to it as an audiobook and enjoyed it. The (audiobook) narrator wasn't amazing, but certainly not bad.

Spoiler for Hiden:
I thought the ending was way too abrupt as well, too many threads left floating. I'm not a person that wants complete closure, but after having walked in Orhan's shoes for that long, I would want to know a little more about what happened in his various relationships with the people who helped and/or hated him.

I didn't react about the unreliable narration; it was made clear explicitly or implicitly several times that this was Orhan's account of the events, and that we couldn't expect it to be perfect truth.

As for the chapters, I did notice it seemed to change chapters almost between sentences in the same scene at times, which I just found odd. I think in an audiobook it's not as obvious, but I can see how I would have found it a bit more annoying if I were reading it. As it stood, it was mostly a bit of a curiosity. But I agree that it was inexpertly handled.

Overall I thought it was a great book from a great perspective. It was well-researched, creative, and different from your regular low fantasy type books in a lot of ways, all of them refreshing.

I haven't read anything else by Parker/Holt, but this book has certainly put him/them on my radar.

Offline eclipse

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Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #80 on: August 20, 2020, 12:33:20 PM »
I’ve read it , I really enjoyed it I hope he does more in the same vein as Sixteen ways to defend a city.

His next book - How To Rule An Empire And Get Away With It - coming out later this year

But, I mean... the blurb:
Quote
The City may be under siege, but everyone still has to make a living. Take Notker, the acclaimed playwright, actor and impresario. Nobody works harder, even when he's not working. Thankfully, the good citizens of Classis appreciate an evening at the theatre even when there are large rocks falling out of the sky.

But Notker is a man of many talents, and all the world is, apparently, a stage. It seems that the Empire needs him - or someone who looks a lot like him - for a role that will call for the performance of a lifetime. At least it will guarantee fame, fortune and immortality. If it doesn't kill him first.



This book has been delivered today it’s on its way to me!
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

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

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Offline cupiscent

Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #81 on: August 20, 2020, 01:11:45 PM »
His next book - How To Rule An Empire And Get Away With It - coming out later this year

This book has been delivered today it’s on its way to me!

gottdammit, where's mine?? *prods pre-order with a stick*

Though you're ahead of the game, it's not supposed to be released until the 25th!

Offline eclipse

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Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #82 on: August 28, 2020, 10:02:13 AM »
Read How to rule , just as good as  Sixteen ways and I liked the ending too in this one.
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

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

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Offline cupiscent

Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #83 on: August 28, 2020, 12:05:07 PM »
Read How to rule , just as good as  Sixteen ways and I liked the ending too in this one.

Looking forward to getting hold of this one, and not just because I ran out of library loans...

Is it connected / related to Sixteen Ways?

Offline eclipse

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Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #84 on: August 28, 2020, 12:36:10 PM »
Read How to rule , just as good as  Sixteen ways and I liked the ending too in this one.

Looking forward to getting hold of this one, and not just because I ran out of library loans...

Is it connected / related to Sixteen Ways?

Yes it’s a sequel set seven years later Also the MC is an unreliable narrator.
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 S. K. Inkslinger

Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #85 on: August 28, 2020, 02:16:40 PM »
Since I've read Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City and really liked it, could anyone here recommend me other good works by K. J. Parker? (Not including How to Rule and Empire and Get Away With It since I'm planning to buy that one anyway)

On other question, besides Sixteen Ways, K. J. Parker's works seemed to be around 3 or 3.5 stars. Were they not as good as Sixteen Ways?

Offline eclipse

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Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #86 on: August 28, 2020, 02:31:43 PM »
Folding knife and the Devil you know

Most of his work is serious, unlike Sixteen Ways I prefer his shorts to his trilogies
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 S. K. Inkslinger

Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #87 on: August 28, 2020, 02:52:07 PM »
Folding knife and the Devil you know

Most of his work is serious, unlike Sixteen Ways I prefer his shorts to his trilogies

I've been eyeing those two too, hahah. Thanks Eclipse. It's pretty hard to find his books at my local online bookstore, though, and they usually have every book you could've thought off. Maybe I'll have to order it from Amazon this time. *grumble about overpriced transport fees*

Offline Alex Hormann

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Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #88 on: August 28, 2020, 02:59:17 PM »
There's Two of Swords, which is a trilogy where each book is made of several novellas. I could never get into them, but they were certainly interesting.
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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: KJ Parker
« Reply #89 on: August 28, 2020, 04:47:08 PM »
STOP THE PRESS.

Read The Folding Knife. It is amazing and the best thing I have read by him - similar themes and ideas to Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City but done better. 

Why are you still here? Go and read it now.
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