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Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Review: The Long Game by K.J. Parker

 


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

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: Subterranean Press (March 31, 2022) Page count: 112 p Cover illustration by Vincent Chong


K.J. Parker is a master of the novella format. He always delivers excellent twists and a great reading experience. In The Long Game, we follow an unnamed narrator as he grapples with supernatural and political challenges.

The narrator, an adept of the Craft, is able to enter the minds of others to expel interdimensional demons that compel them to do evil deeds. The thing is, throughout the years he's befriended one of the demons and they have a cordial, mutually beneficial relationship.

Things get complicated when he meets Amalasomtha, a young woman with impossible abilities who hails from remote (and believed mythical ) Idalia. Her superiors have tasked her with capturing a demon. As you'd expect from Parker, the truth is nuanced and political in nature. Expect murder, magic, deception, hidden agendas, and glimpses of a larger story, the titular Long Game.

As a massive fan of Parker's writing, I loved the condensed story full of vignettes and jumps in time (used to introduce characters or give us the context of the situation). Like many of Parker's narrators, this one is comically self-absorbed and morally flexible. He's not happy with his current circumstances (doing fieldwork) and would prefer to work as a researcher and a teacher. 

His demonic friend is also weary of his superiors. The idiotic bureaucracy annoys them both, so they help each other and exchange false information to feed their superiors. Except, one of them is playing a longer game.

Parker packs The Long Game with action, twists, and betrayals. He also weaves in playful humor and a healthy dose of cynicism with a light, sure hand. I love the novella format, and The Long Game kept me riveted every second of the wild ride.

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