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3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  996 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
K.J. Parker's new novel is a perfectly executed tale of intrigue and deception.

For the first time in nearly forty years, an uneasy truce has been called between two neighbouring kingdoms. The war has been long and brutal, fought over the usual things: resources, land, money...

Now, there is a chance for peace. Diplomatic talks have begun and with them, the games. Two teams
Paperback, 449 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by Orbit (first published 2012)
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Ranting Dragon
Oct 29, 2012 Ranting Dragon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stephan

There’s this relatively new rage in fantasy, and I’ve never been a fan of it. Authors—like Daniel Abraham and Joe Abercrombie—create a rich world with a lot of history, but zoom in on only one aspect of their world’s story in each book. Unlike the stories told in traditional fantasy, these are tales of characters instead of events. Think of it as the siege of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings, told solely from the viewpoints of a rider in the army of Rohan a
Dec 04, 2012 Algernon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, favorites
short review version: quintesential Parker.
Those already familiar with the works of the author will recognize familiar themes and characters, signature plot twists or moral dillemas. Also instantly recognizable is the dry style and the black humor. Yet, Parker appears capable of infusing fresh blood into these familiar territories, making the swordfighters in Sharps are different from the ones in the Fencer, Engineer or Scavenger books, yet members of the same family of slightly psychopatic lone
Sharps is vintage KJ Parker but also the most complex of the author's standalone novels, while bringing elements from all the author's oeuvre and connecting with earlier works like Purple and Black which is alluded in the book - though of course as it is KJ Parker, the details may not be precisely the same in so far the Empire in P&B worshiped the Invincible Sun (like the Western Empire and Scheria here, Scheria being the country of our heroes and either former province of the Western Empire ...more
Kat  Hooper
Jul 19, 2012 Kat Hooper rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars Originally posted at FanLit.

"Sharp swords, dirty books and pickled cabbage. Why has everything on this trip got to be horrible?"

The neighboring kingdoms of Permia and Scheria have always been enemies. Some of their citizens like it this way — particularly those of the military aristocracies who are valued (and therefore kept in power) by their countrymen when the two kingdoms are at war. The last war ended, though, when General Carnufex of Scheria managed to divert a few rivers and flo
Jul 01, 2013 Stef rated it it was ok
I fenced in high school and college and usually enjoy a good swashbuckling story. I was really excited about Sharps because unlike The Princess Bride or generic high fantasy novel, this was specifically about "fencers," albeit in a fantasy setting. Unfortunately, this novel reads more like a combination of Waiting for Godot and a wannabe Terry Pratchett that I found the reading difficult and the description of the fencing so absurdly technical that I don't understand how it would be appealing to ...more
The last war between the neighboring countries of Permia and Scheria ended when Scheria’s greatest general redirected the course of a number of rivers and flooded one of the enemy’s cities, thereby killing tens of thousands of people and gaining the charming nickname “the Irrigator.” Some years later, as K.J. Parker’s newest novel Sharpsstarts off, the tension between the two enemies shows signs of thawing, so much so that there’s talk of sending a mission of goodwill across the Demilitarized Zo ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Sharps is full of action, both physical and mental, as well as mystery, humor and depth. Parker packs this single volume full of some of the most amazing, mentally engaging writing I’ve ever had the honor of reading. The characterization, depth and mystery are unparalleled. Coupled with Parker’s sarcasm and dark humor, Sharps is one of those books that sets the bar incredibly, almost impossibly high. Parker is a unique, refreshing and engaging voice in fantasy. Sharps is one of those books that ...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Aug 01, 2012 Tudor Ciocarlie rated it it was amazing
Great meditation on war, conflict and the uses of fighting on the same level as the brilliant Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks. The middle part is a little slow, but the ending and the resolutions are absolutely perfect and very satisfying.
Milo (Bane of Kings)
Original Post:

“Enthralling, Original. A Delight to read, fans of fantasy will enjoy this.” ~The Founding Fields

Despite the fact that I have been interested in reading KJ Parker’s novels for a while now, I never really go the chance to pick one up. However, now that I have read Sharps, I can safely say that I will be reading more from this author, if this work is anything to go by. Despite a few nagging issues that I had with this title, I still found it
Jun 07, 2016 Metaphorosis rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 2016-rev
4 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

A mismatched group of reluctant fencers is sent on a goodwill tour through a conquered neighbour. They find that not only must they fight with un-bated swords, they're not at all up to their putative purpose, and no one seems to care.

When I first ran across K. J Parker, through his (we now know) Fencer trilogy, I was thrilled. Here was someone doing something decidedly different and interesting, rather than just regurgitating Tolkien. It's interesting, because I had
Aug 05, 2015 Jacqie rated it it was amazing
This was my first K.J. Parker book, and I think it will be the first of many that I'll read by him. I went right out and bought "The Company" after finishing this.

The story: five rag-tag professional fencers go on a tour of the country with which their homeland has had an on-again, off-again war. The idea is to mend fences (see what I did there?) because both countries are mad about the sport of fencing.

The first clue this motley crew has that things may not be what they seem is when they find
Jeremy Preacher
May 08, 2015 Jeremy Preacher rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
First of all, Sharps is only a fantasy novel by courtesy - it takes place on a world that isn't quite our own, with cultures that are basically European (particularly Roman) but there is no actual fantastic element other than that. That's not a flaw, mind you - the worldbuilding hits all of the usual fantasy notes and the lack of magic is more than made up for by the details of the swordplay.

It's a rather twisty story - the point of view jumps around, but for most of the book the reader knows ve
Lauren Stoolfire
After a long and brutal war, a truce has been called between two neighboring kingdoms. There is finally a chance for peace as diplomatic talks begin. To help facilitate this new peace, there is going to be a fencing tour with the shared love of a sport bringing two previously warring kingdoms together. The ragtag group of Scherian fencers making up the tour will have to learn to work together if they want to make it home from Permia in one piece and not begin another war.

First and foremost, the
Jul 11, 2012 Mihir rated it really liked it

Full Review Originally at Fantasy Book Critic

SHARPS is a tale about several things, one way the author summarizes is “Sharps is rather more about the Arab Spring than the economy or the war, but just as elements of the war and the economy impinged on events in Egypt and Libya in real life, so in the book.”

It’s also perhaps a tale of fencing or as the author quotes it as “a conversation in steel”. Most reviewers who have read it have had fulsome praise for it. For me it’s a tale of people th
Jan 29, 2013 Sasha rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Finally finished! After loving KJ Parker's Engineer Trilogy, I was delighted to find Sharps at the Library. I know about nothing about fencing, but figured it's KJ Parker, so I gave it a shot.

This book took me awhile to get into. I was worried with all of the character introductions that I didn't know who was where, why they mattered, and I surely didn't think I'd be able to keep track of them all. I almost gave up, but I always try my best to finish books that I've started, so I pushed the worr
Oct 04, 2012 Aran rated it really liked it
Consummate craftsmanship laced with the driest mirth. This is perhaps closer to a quest narrative than Parker's other works, but like those other works it's too original, too mature to be classed as genre fantasy. In many ways, closer to the tradition of Dostoevsky than of Tolkien. Refreshingly, you never have the sense that a certain character is bound to triumph because they're the hero, that the whole book is lurching towards a telegraphed outcome.

The central images here are the messer - an i
Sep 18, 2013 Alvaro added it
Shelves: give-it-up
Too slow and sometimes thick for my taste.
Nov 13, 2015 Wortmagie rated it really liked it

K.J. Parker ist ein Pseudonym. 17 Jahre schrieb der britische Autor Tom Holt unerkannt unter diesem Namen. Im April dieses Jahres wurde das Geheimnis gelüftet. Der Autor historischer Romane Tom Holt erfand K.J. Parker, um vorurteilsfrei schreiben zu können. Er wollte ernst genommen werden, weil seine Karriere mit humoristischer Fantasy begann. Dieser Schritt war sehr erfolgreich, denn er gewann mit seinen Fantasy-Romanen zwei Awards und wurde für zahlreiche weitere nominiert. „Sharps“ war mei
Tracey the Lizard Queen
Oct 28, 2015 Tracey the Lizard Queen rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2015-reads
I liked this book. It's one of those rare breed fantasies without any actual magic in them. Just another world with different countries and peoples. It's not a bad thing though, I didn't miss the magical element. The characters were more than enough to keep me interested. A map would have been nice though, just to help visualise the countryside better. And I like maps.

The basic plot runs a bit like this: There was a war between two nieghbouring countries, Scheria and Permia, it ended a few years
Aug 25, 2012 Kam rated it liked it
One of the very first martial arts I developed an interest in was fencing. I remember watching the 1993 Disney version The Three Musketeers, starring a very young Chris O'Donnell and Kiefer Sutherland, and absolutely adoring the action depicted onscreen: sword-blades flashing quicksilver-bright as thrusts and counter-thrusts were delivered, all mingled with witty retorts and daring escapes. To be sure, a lot of the action wasn't entirely period-accurate (the movie owes a lot to Hong Kong action ...more
Nov 27, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
I’ve heard a lot of good things about K. J. Parker, her/his (the author’s name is a pseudonym) Engineer Trilogy (amongst two other earlier series) has been well regarded amongst critics. With all the praise for Parker’s previous work buzzing in the background I decided to the give the author’s recent stand alone novel, Sharps, a shot. As the novel begins there is an uneasy peace between the nations of Scheria and Permia; two nations that have been at war for nearly 40 years. As diplomatic talks ...more
JJ DeBenedictis
Jan 21, 2016 JJ DeBenedictis rated it it was ok
Although I did like Sharps, it seems as if merely liking it is a disappointment. I read The Folded Knife by K. J. Parker recently, and not only can this author create vibrant, engaging characters, but s/he can pull a narrative drive out of subject matter I wouldn't have thought I'd find compelling. So I expected to like Sharps--which has subject matter much more up my alley than The Folded Knife--quite a lot.

Instead, it was merely fine.

The characters were good, but not all of them were as inter
Aug 21, 2012 Ryandake rated it liked it
K.J. Parker does one thing really, really well: s/he ties the reader up in knots, trying to figure out who's plotting what, and why.

Sharps is full of a bunch of different factions maybe trying to start a war, not so long, as it happens, since the last one ended. a small group of fencers is sent to a neighboring country as a goodwill tour, theoretically to mend fences and as a token of peace.

except that each of the fencers is hiding something; at least one (but which one?) is surely an assassin;
Apr 19, 2014 dwd rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable. This was my first KJ Parker book and I don't know why. It's very much the sort of non-magical, politics and intrigue type of fantasy I prefer. The writing is excellent, and it's the sort of story where you can read 50 pages, realize not much has actually happened, and yet it wasn't slow or boring at all. The ending was--while not bad--not quite as dramatic as one might have hoped, and for that reason I'm only giving it 4 stars, but I'll definitely be reading more from this author ...more
Jun 02, 2015 Ann rated it really liked it
What I love about Parker's books is that he creates very character-driven stories with a lot of detail about a particular subject. In The Folding Knife, it was economics; in this book it is fencing. The details move the story forward in a complex way. These are not fast-paced, action-packed stories, even though a lot happens. They are believable stories about believable people in a believable, made-up world.
Aug 17, 2015 Aaron rated it liked it
Good book, but I don't like it as much as his Engineer Trilogy or the first two books in his Fencer Trilogy. But, as always, I love how all of the characters in the books are extremely smart. Even if they do something stupid, it's for very good reasons, and you can easily understand how that looked like the best course of action.

Some quotes I liked:

p.67: (Suidas is explaining how easy fixing something would be if only they had the right tools): Giraut looked at him. "What have we got?"
Inside t
Dec 16, 2014 Laurentbiragduriaud rated it it was ok
With an obvious love for fencing, as stated in his acknowledgements, K.J. Parker documents in his novel, a war over resources, land, money, marked by fencers, who do battle, where murder is a matter of course.

K.J. Parker's new novel is a perfectly executed tale of intrigue and deception.

For the first time in nearly forty years, an uneasy truce has been called between two neighbouring kingdoms. The war has been long and brutal, fought over the usual things: resources, land, money...

Now, there is
Dan Smyth
Feb 03, 2016 Dan Smyth rated it really liked it
I really like K.J. Parker's books. A group of five sword-fighters are sent to another country (with which their country has very recently been at war) on a fencing tour that doesn't go at all as planned. The most important facet of which is that instead of fighting with foils and blunt-edged swords (like they are familiar with, and expecting) all of the tournaments are instead fought with Sharps. The story is spread across each of the five characters in the team, and although it moves along at a ...more
I have waited awhile to see if I truly wanted to give Sharps five stars. I do. For me, it was the perfect blend of dark humor, action, characterization and flowing prose.
Jul 27, 2015 Logan rated it really liked it
A fencing team composed of a bunch of misfits and political offenders is sent on a "diplomatic" tour of a country they used to be at war with. Tensions are high and something isn't quite right, especially when they realize that they are expected to fence with sharp swords (sharps), instead of the blunted ones they are used to. Something sinister is stirring.

Very enjoyable and intelligent as always when reading Parker. Having fenced myself, I very much enjoyed the descriptions, and I especially f
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K.J. Parker is a pseudonym for Tom Holt. The author's true name was revealed on 21 April 2015.

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 autobiographi
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“He turned away, and suddenly she thought about the old children's story, where the stupid girl opens the box that God gave her, and all the evils of the world fly out, except Hope, which stays at the bottom; and she wondered what Hope was doing in there in the first place, in with all the bad things. Then the answer came to her, and she wondered how she could've been so stupid. Hope was in there because it was evil too, probably the worst of them all, so heavy with malice and pain that it couldn't drag itself out of the opened box.” 28 likes
“…if medical science is geography, then mankind as a species has a map with three towns marked on it and a lot of blank space with drawings of sea serpents.” 6 likes
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