Published: April 9, 2019
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 384 (Paperback)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
A siege is approaching, and the City has little time left to prepare. The people have no food and no weapons, and the enemy has sworn to slaughter them all.
Their only chance rests with a colonel of engineers – a despised outsider, a genius, a master of military and political strategy with the wrong color skin. He is the City’s only hope.
But nobody, rich or poor, wants to take orders from a jumped-up Milkface. Saving the City from itself might be more difficult than surviving the coming siege.
I’d never read a K.J. Parker book prior to this one so I had no idea what to expect other than what little the synopsis gave me. What I got was a wildly entertaining book with a narrator that both kept me on my toes and in stitches from laughter.
Orhan, Colonel of the Engineers, is one of the first to realize something dreadfully wrong is going on in the Empire and by the time anyone listens to him, the city he’s in is under siege and no one can save them. Orhan is the ranking military man in the city and is in charge of the defenses when an army shows up on the doorstep. No need for excessvie detail here – if you’ve been reading fantasy (or history for that matter) you know how things work in a city under siege. The book is basically his firsthand account of how things went down and as such it’s heavily influenced by his personality and humor. I loved every page of it and thought it was downright hilarious at times without lessening the severity of the situation.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this book other than to highly recommend it to fantasy readers who want a good Roman influenced siege book that doesn’t have a fusty old narrator. There were a few delightful plot reveals that I won’t dare discuss further in order to avoid spoilers. This has left me with a great impression of K.J. Parker’s writing and I look forward to checking out some of his other books – recommendations would be appreciated!