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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Book Review: A Practical Guide to Conquering the World (The Siege # 3) by K. J. Parker

 

Book links: AmazonGoodreads

Series links: 

SIXTEEN WAYS TO DEFEND A WALLED CITY—FBC Review —Amazon 
HOW TO RULE THE EMPIRE AND GET AWAY WITH IT - FBC REVIEW - Amazon


AUTHOR INFO: K.J. Parker is a pseudonym for Tom Holt. According to the biographical notes in some of Parker's books, Parker has previously worked in law, journalism, and numismatics, and now writes and makes things out of wood and metal. It is also claimed that Parker is married to a solicitor and now lives in southern England. According to an autobiographical note, Parker was raised in rural Vermont, a lifestyle which influenced Parker's work.

Publisher: Orbit (January 11, 2022) Length: 385 pages Cover design: Lauren Panepinto Formats: audiobook, ebook, paperback


When it comes to K.J. Parker's writing, I'm not a fan. I'm a believer. Sure, not everything he writes is excellent, and sometimes he reuses the same plot points to write a story. Still, I always have a great time reading Parker's books. A Practical Guide to Conquering the World is no exception. I loved it - it made me laugh and appreciate a cynical but insightful view of the world.

This time we follow Felix, a member of the Robur race, who works as a translator for the Echmen empire. He enjoys books and peaceful life. But alas, Parker has other plans for him. When armies wipe out the Robur race, Felix joins the Hus' ambassador, who owes him for saving the life of his princess. Unfortunately, shortly after, the Echmen kill the Hus king and enslave his people. Felix decides to save a group of people he doesn't actually like. Not an easy task - he must unite the Hus with their enemy, the Dejauzi, and find a way to defeat the Echmen empire. How you may ask? Well, inventing a religion and becoming a prophet is a good start.

Felix's bold plans and cynical view of the world are always entertaining. He idolizes no one and knows that if you want to do something right (even if it's conquering the world), it's better to do it yourself. And so he decides to fight the war to end all wars.

The pacing is excellent and the twists are legion. Add to that Felix's unreliable narration and you get a tremendously entertaining and darkly humorous romp. Like most Parker heroes, Felix has no strict moral code. So readers should ask themselves: what does he really want?

The Siege is a series of loosely connected books. You don't need to have read the previous volumes to understand, follow, and appreciate the story. However, if you read the books in order of publication, you can enjoy certain nuances. Besides, they're fun, and why deprive yourself of a good time?

I'll read anything Parker writes. A Practical Guide to Conquering the World is an excellent, darkly humorous, and an insightful story I'll happily revisit in the future. Highly recommended!

Additional note: I've listened to the audiobook version and had a great time listening to it. Ray Sawyer captured the tone of the book perfectly.

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