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The Hammer

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  914 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
Gignomai is the youngest brother in the current generation of met'Oc, a once-noble family exiled on an island for their role in a vaguely remembered civil war.

On this island, a colony was founded seventy years ago. The plan was originally for the colonists to mine silver, but there turned out not to be any.

Now, an uneasy peace exists on the island, between the colonists an
Paperback, 404 pages
Published January 5th 2011 by Orbit
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Jun 27, 2011 Search rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2012
ohhh my God!
I was more than half way through thinking what the hell, nothing's happening, wondering why the hell this has such great reviews. The writing was great and all but still the plot wasn't getting anywhere.
Then Parker drove a blade right through my heart which I never saw coming and then kept twisting till the end. Damn but I'll be forced to write a full review too!
If Parker's a woman damn me but I'd like to meet a woman who writes stuff like this, I wouldn't have thought it was possib
For readers familiar with KJ Parker's work, The Hammer can be summarized as the family drama of The Fencer series, the driven hero of The Folding Knife and the setup of The Company.

As a big fan of the author's work, I had the highest expectations for The Hammer - it should top my 2011 Anticipated Fantasy list, though having had the book for a while makes that a bit moot - and it was as good as I expected and it's an early candidate for my best of 2011.

So, on a big island, a small subsistence
Mar 02, 2016 Klodovik2 rated it liked it
Malo mi je teško ocjenit ovu knjigu. Prva polovica mi je bila dosadna i naporna, sredina prosječna ali ju je zato odličan kraj izvuka iz minusa. Ovo nije neko maestralno djelo ali bih ga ipak svima preporučio a pogotovo onima koji vole sporiji razvoj radnje. U nekim stvarima je naporno filozofska s previše opisa svega i svačega a opet u drugim je brutalno jednostavna i brutalna. Iako naviknut na Martinovo i Abercrombievo nasilje ipak me je uspilo šokirat u par navrata.
Knjiga je low fantasy. U nj
The Hammer is formulaic. It's a very effective formula, and one that has made me a fan of KJ Parker's work, but it's a formula nonetheless. You'll find here the same characters and tropes that inhabit most of Parker's other work: good characters that turn bad, bad characters that turn good, a seemingly relentless logic that leads to extreme and brutal results, and, most of all, a metaphor hammered until it's paper thin, then folded and re-folded and hammered again.

You'll find, also, the common v
Jan 04, 2011 Stefan rated it really liked it
Gignomai met’Oc is the youngest son of a once-noble family that, decades ago, fell out of favor and was exiled from the Empire’s capital to a remote and comparably primitive colony established 70 years before the start of the novel. The met’Oc family is really twice isolated, as it lives on a plateau separate from the rest of the colony, with which it lives in an uneasy kind of not-quite-peace. While Gig’s older brothers Luso and Stheno have their own responsibilities around the house, Gig has e ...more
Jon Knight
If you've never read any KJParker stuff, treat my review as a four - but only read this one. Having read quite a few, I'm afraid it felt like a bit of a retreading of old ground.

Maybe I'm a phillistine and authors should be encouraged to explore the same themes over several novels, this felt too similar.

To reiterate: summarizes a lot of what the author has explored before in good form. Read this instead of the back catalogue - but I'd put it to the bottom of the to-read list if you've read oth
Ranting Dragon
Jan 12, 2011 Ranting Dragon rated it really liked it
Shelves: benni

Written by K. J. Parker, The Hammer is a standalone novel set on an island populated by a farming colony, a tribe of nomadic savages, and an exiled noble family, the Met’Ocs. An uneasy and unspoken arrangement exists among these three groups—the colonists allow the armed Met’Ocs to pillage their farms in exchange for protection against the savages.

The oldest Met’Oc brother, Stheno, is the strongest and runs the family farm on the Tabletop, a naturally fort
Jul 15, 2011 Antonis rated it liked it
3.5 / 5

I’m having a bit of trouble reviewing The Hammer by KJ Parker. I can’t even make myself come up with an adequate summary. So for those reasons, I will forgo my usual review format and get into something more casual and comfortable. You see, The Hammer is a very interesting book; a book that keeps you reading and wanting to find out what comes next. But at the same time, it’s also a frustrating book; a book that annoys you with some things but still makes you keep reading. I’m not making
Guy Haley
Dec 16, 2015 Guy Haley rated it really liked it
Duty, morality, guns and an engineering project.

It’s paradoxical to describe Parker’s books as fantasy. Aside from the non-Earth setting (here and elsewhere a 16th century-ish Rome analogue), they’re as real as real can be. Do you like Jules Verne, his informative descriptions of telegraphy and ballooning? You’ll like Parker’s detailed engineering passages, although these books are 21st century terse in their edification, not 19th century prolix. Also realistic are the characters, whose mental m
Sep 15, 2012 David rated it really liked it
K.J. Parker, whoever they are, has a theory about society. The theory is, I think, that only sociopaths can get anything done. She - yeah, I think Parker is a she, and 'she' is less cumbersome than the gender neutral - is a maker of things and I expect has a certain dispassionate view of stuff. I wonder if her previous career has also given her a jaundiced view of humanity.

So. As always, there's the obvious sociopath, the not so obvious sociopath, and the ineffectual, needy psychopath. The fanta
Nov 02, 2011 Nathan rated it it was amazing
Someone needs to penetrate Parker's pseudonym, I would hate to think she is writing under another name as well and I am missing some of her books.

When reading Parker you know a couple things. The world will be gritty and violent, at least one, maybe more of the characters have a nasty plan going, and a few hidden gems will make you laugh and then feel guilty about it.

The Hammer starts with a lot of time pressed into a short section. A few years before IT happened, where we get some back ground
Jul 31, 2015 Logan rated it it was amazing
This was powerful, gut-wrenching, and horrifying. The prose as always with Parker, is very enjoyable, or as the front of this book says "glitters with intelligence and precision." The characters I enjoyed, especially the "engineering" one who put together a forge, smelter---basically a factory, nearly single-handedly to help his colony not be dependent on imported goods. But the powerful message at the end just knocked me for a loop. Too often I see people who become abusers in the same manner i ...more
Emily (BellaGrace)
Jun 29, 2015 Emily (BellaGrace) rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, a-own-it
I'm a little torn on what to rate this - it's around a 3.5 for me. First, this is only loosely fantasy - there's no magic or anything different - just set in a fictional place. I spent most of the book trying to figure out who was good and who bad. I found the ending really unsatisfying. The book wasn't boring or bad, I just didn't care for how things turned out. I will try other books by this author though.
While parts of this reminded me a bit of The Engineer Trilogy, this book was still intense, and deep without ever straying from the morally gray area that Parker seems to enjoy so much. Flawless writing coupled with an intriguing plot is sure to please almost any reader.

Read my full review here:
May 28, 2014 Dan rated it it was ok
The book starts at a sloth's pace, spending far too much time setting up its characters and setting. If you're a hardened enough reader where you can regularly get through 100+ pages of nothing, the second half is sure to please. For everyone else. pick up something quicker.
Jan 09, 2011 Benni rated it really liked it

Written by K. J. Parker, The Hammer is a standalone novel set on an island populated by a farming colony, a tribe of nomadic savages, and an exiled noble family, the Met’Ocs. An uneasy and unspoken arrangement exists among these three groups—the colonists allow the armed Met’Ocs to pillage their farms in exchange for protection against the savages.

The oldest Met’Oc brother, Stheno, is the strongest and runs the family farm on the Tabletop, a naturally fort
Mar 29, 2011 Bibliotropic rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 06, 2013 Patrick rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
On principle, I write very few reviews, as I don’t like writing them for books I do not genuinely like. Unfortunately, that happens to be the vast majority of what I read. May of the books I read that I can appreciate in terms of skill and quality I cannot actually enjoy. Then there are books which are more like guilty pleasures for me—I know that they are not particularly good, but they’re something to read that I can at least bring myself to enjoy. Besides, there’s always the chance that they’ ...more
Apr 28, 2013 Aleksandar rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is my first Parker novel and while I liked it, I didn't like it as much as her short works, which are, in my opinion, on the top of the genre. It is still very well written and while I appreciate it for that, I think that it falls short when it comes to the entertainment factor. Of course, you don't read Parker as escapism - it features not quite likeable and morally ambiguous characters, difficult moral dilemmas, and intricate plotting. It was all there in her novellas, but it didn't preve ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I wish there were more books like this: fantasy only because it’s set in a secondary world, with complex characters and unpredictable plots and moral ambiguity and solid writing and dialogue. This book is not for everyone—while it’s apparently less dark than much of Parker’s previous work, the main character is not altogether likeable and the plot is driven by a couple of atrocities that the reader won’t soon forget. Still, it’s so well-crafted that I would certainly recommend to anyone looking ...more
M.A. Kropp
Jun 20, 2012 M.A. Kropp rated it liked it
Shelves: e-books
I'm not sure what is going on with all these depressing books I've been reading lately, but this one falls right in with the trend.

Gignomai me'Oc is the youngest son of an aristocratic family exiled to a remote island for their part in a seventy year old war. The family lives on a remote farm, far removed from the village, also peopled with outcasts and exiles from Home. They put up a pretense of nobility, when in fact, their life is no better than the others. Gig is haunted by an incident that
Jan 20, 2015 Nicole rated it it was ok
1.5 stars- I really didn't like it much, but I wasn't consumed with hate for it. So on a scale of "did not like" to "it was ok", I'm leaning more towards the latter. I'm willing to try a different book by this author because maybe this one is just a dud.

This sounds stupid but I was genuinely bothered by the fact that this book virtually had no chapters. I mean yes, there are several spaces between paragraphs periodically to indicate breaks in the story and the book is broken into three sections
Nayan Patel
Mar 02, 2012 Nayan Patel rated it liked it
K J Parker has been an author that I have meant to read but haven't been able to for almost a year now. However, I just couldn't be patient anymore and decided to read The Hammer.

The book is more or less centered around Gignomai met'Oc. The met'Ocs are a once-noble family who have now been exiled on an island on the tabletop while "the colonists" populate the area around the tabletop. There is an uneasy peace which exists between the met'Ocs and the colonists since the colonists believe that the
Aug 27, 2012 Ananda rated it really liked it
KJ Parker is unique among fantasy authors. This is the fifth of her books that I've read and I think she has carved out a new genre: tragic fantasy. Her novels force the reader to grapple with characters who are really morally ambiguous, not manipulatively so, and with the question of what really matters -- motive or result? And - does knowing someone's motive affect your judgment of the results? And as each of her novels barrels towards its own uniquely terrible conclusion, I feel like I am wat ...more
Jan 04, 2012 Dee rated it liked it
I'm finding it hard to review this book in terms other than comparisons to the rest of Parker's work. I feel as though, really, Parker has been whittling away at the extraneous requirements writing "fantasy" puts on the story - forget about magic, or creatures, or strange psychological/temporal phenomena, let's get back to the essence of story, which is one man hitting another man with a stick thus causing that man to go away and build a better stick. (Do I miss the unexpected world and system c ...more
Jun 13, 2012 Crystal rated it really liked it
I experienced some trepidation before starting this book. KJ Parker's books are usually twisted in some unexpected way. I don't mean that they're part of that "grimdark" trend in fantasy, where every character is miserable and evil all the time. I just mean that Parker unfailingly exposes flaws in the human condition through extraordinary ways. After reading "The Company" in 2010, I was a little depressed, though I loved the book.

My opinion is that "The Hammer" is one of Parker's easier books to
Nair Núñez
Sep 22, 2012 Nair Núñez rated it it was amazing
It had been a while since I got so hooked up on a fantasy novel I forgot to sleep entirely.

The Hammer is unique in many ways. First, in a genre where trilogies and series abound, a stand alone novel pops us a refreshing change. Second, rather than setting the story in the fuss lines of middle-agery, or jumped down to urban fantasy, it is build upon an 18th century-like timeline. Thirdly, it has nothing to do with magic, the supernatural or any fantasy-standard memorabilia. Quite frankly, The Ha
JJ DeBenedictis
Jun 28, 2016 JJ DeBenedictis rated it liked it
I enjoyed this a lot, although it's not perfect. The writing, story, and characters slurp you in very well, and as usual, K J Parker writes fantasy with no magic and a surprising amount of economics, and somehow it's perfectly enjoyable to a fantasy audience.

The downsides to this book would be a fridged sister and some characterizations that weren't developed well enough for the reader to necessarily agree with the opinions of the protagonist regarding the lovability of other characters.

It's al
Michael Peyton
Nov 15, 2015 Michael Peyton rated it really liked it
This is in some ways a standard Parker tale: intelligent misfit builds elaborate impersonal machinery to achieve inexorable (and often excessive) revenge for an old wrong. But it's still a great story.

In Parker's world, there are two kinds of people who are *really* dangerous: engineers, and leaders. The recurring theme is the ability to construct something larger than yourself, either from metal, or from people. Gignomai is a terrifying character because he is *both*. The machine he builds is b
May 22, 2015 Jasontrent rated it really liked it
KJ Parker is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors to read. If the style of KJ Parker had to be summed up as a book title I would go with "The Law of Unintended Consequences" or "A Snowball Rolling Down a Mountainside". The writing is superbly done and draws you in. I could understand complaints that on some occasions the plot does not proceed rapidly, but KJ Parker is so good at keeping you enthralled you forget that you are reading four pages on how a fence is being mended.

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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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“Basic fact of life: no matter how far you run, you always take yourself with you.” 19 likes
“If the world is a book, are you the hero, or just a walk-on part?” 10 likes
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