Monday, January 28, 2008

K.J. Parker - The Escapement (Book Review)


Perpetual republic is under siege. The army of nearly a million savage Aram Chantat is getting ready to dig in around the city of Mezentia under the unsure leadership of Duke Valens. The abominator Ziani Vaatzes together with the genius sociopath Daurenja is building siege engines of all kinds. From those specified, to something perhaps unseen, the secret weapon – a blackpowder canon. But for all their weapons nobody knows if they'll manage to defeat the mighty fortifications of the city before they run out of food themselves. Meanwhile secretary Psellus turns for salvation to another secret weapon - a woman. The flicker wife of Zianis who together with her blindly ambitious lover Boioannes was the cause of the bloodshed…

Just finished it and as expected, the book is a decent ending to a decent trilogy. Parker is a good storyteller. Even without rereading first two books you soon fall back into the rhythm of characters and events. Especially the characters since they are the most important part in his The Engineer trilogy. Second important part of the book is, not surprisingly, engineering. Not engineering of machines, though that is an important part of the story too, but engineering reality so that it may give the wanted result.

Unfortunately as important and well written as both parts are, none of them is perfect. His characters are as a rule too extreme - too smart, too ingenious, too much duty-bound, too romantic, perhaps even too psychotic to be realistic. For the second part what disturbed me most were the leaps with which he usually ends his books. You read through the series of events and thoughts, but the end makes most of them unimportant. It reminded me of all those detective stories in which you are never given all the clues that the detective found and all of the discoveries he made – just the ending. The butler did it…

Oh, and as an afterthought. What REALLY bothered me was his use of star fort when describing fortifications. Such forts developed in the response to the use of gunpowder, the world of this series is still the world of classical siege engine designs, so such fortification would be unlikely. O.K. I'm a historian, so sue me. Such things tend to bother me a bit, but don't let it spoil your reading pleasure.

All in all a decent read. Book and series both. So from me: 3,5/5

My first publication on the blog… Damn I'm nervous and awaiting your praise (you don't have to bother with criticism, right?). So, please, do leave a comment.

- BlindMan -

7 Comments:

anki said...

The review is quite nice :)
I just want to point out that you have a huge spoiler in the part describing the story. At the end of book 2 it's not clear who Ariessas lover is. It's one of the great mysteries of the books not a good idea to give it away in a review. I don't mind but other people may.

Sheep The Evicted said...

Your thoughts pretty much mirrored mine, which is good, even though i didn't pick up on the whole too extreme which is interesting, and now that i think of it, very correct. But then the more i think of it i think Parker ( who is a she by the way) wrote these books as a sort of joke.

BlindMan said...

Damn!!! No criticism I said!!!

LOL

THX for all the comments. Anku you're right. It seems I'll have to be more careful about spoilers in the future. Sheep... And if my thougts would not mirror yours? Would that really be ALL that bad :P. But seriously, from what I understand the whole he/she thing is not 100% yet one way or the other. But if I'm wrong... Well, it won't be the first time. Perhaps he/she really did wrote them as a joke, I didn't read her/his other fantasy books so I really couldn't say. It is possible, and it would kinda explain the 'leaps' part. We'll see with the next book.

Mikael said...

I didn't realise that KJ Parker is a "she" author :).regards,mikael

Anonymous said...

have you read her previous trilogy? it's also supposed to be good.

TheMallet said...

a great review blindman!

Marie said...

KJ Parker is most definitely a woman. It would be nice if you fixed your review accordingly ;)

 

blogger templates 3 columns | Make Money Online