Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City
Their only chance rests with a colonel of engineers - a despised outsider, a genius, a master of military and political strategy with the wrong colour skin. He is the City's only hope.
But nobody, rich or poor, wants to ...more
Orhan is an engineer, not a military man, and he finds himself leading the defence of a city he doesn’t really care about. He’s got no real experience giving battlefield orders; he’s used to organising men to build bridges and ...more
Parker is back at it! What an absolute pleasure! All the things you love about his writing and then some!
Unreliable narrator, deeply flawed yet genius protagonist, dry intelligent humour, immersive setting and characters. I mean... this is a top shelf read. Highest possible recommendation! 5 🌟
This is a stand-alone novel too - so no pressure to commit to the series. But if you tried this... you will be after The Two of Swords, and Savages, and Sharps, and The Folding Knife... it is addictive ...more
While the ending has a conclusion so to speak, I really hope this is the start of a new series as advertised. There is an epilogue that sort of connects it with other works at least as some naming like met d'Oc, or events like Perimadeia's destructi ...more
The worms declared war on the lions, and all the animals in the forest were sure the lions would win. But the lions couldn’t catch the worms, because they dug down into the ground and wouldn’t come out and fight. But at night, when the lions were asleep, the worms crawled through their ears and ate their brains and killed them, every one. It’s a popular story, where I come from, though the Robur have never heard of it. And when I tell it to my Imperial friends, I always ask them first, which wo ...more
Homage to Engineers: "Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City" by by K.J. Parker
“My belief is, either you understand things or you understand people. Nobody can do both. Frankly, I’m happier with things. I understand stuff like tensile strength, shearing force, ductility, work hardening, stress, fatigue. I know the same sort of things happen with people, but the rules are subtly different. And nobody’s ever paid for my time to get to know ...more
And just like that, I'm in.
Less fantasy than parable, K.J. Parker's clever little book is set in an alternate version of the Holy Roman Empire - which, frankly, is a fine milieu for the story of a siege. Told entirely in the first person by a nefarious engineer named Orhan, we are treated to a detailed defensive campaign against a bold and mysterious enemy possessed of overwhelming fo ...more
The sweetly realized success of Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City really hinges on its witty depiction of the protagonist, Orhan, head of the Imperial army engineers, with all his myriad inconsistencies and personal faults, including an innate cowardice. An outsider, having faced racial discrimination his whole life, he's reluctantly thrust into a position of authority when he'd really rather be building bridges and making gadgets.
The story becomes o ...more
“According to the books (there’s an extensive literature on the subject) there are fifteen ways to defend a walled city. You can try one of them and, if that doesn’t work...What the books don’t tell you is, there’s a sixteenth way. You can use it when you’ve got nothing; no stuff, no men, and nobody to lead them. Apart from that it’s got nothing to recommend it whatsoever.”
I’ve discovered KJ Parker late in my life, through his brilliant novellas. I became a believer. Brilliant minds impress ...more
Some things I really liked: (view spoiler)[Ogus was a great reveal, particularly Ogus's own story of why he was there in the first place (" ...more
This was an absolutely brilliant read! I've always had a bit of a soft spot for a clever yet flawed underdog protagonist, who unreliably narrates his own story - Orhan, Colonel of Engineers was an excellent main character:
'My belief is, either you understand things or you understand people. Nobody can do both. Frankly, I'm happier with things. I understand stuff like tensile strength, shearing force, ductility, work hard ...more
The story is narrated by the head of Imperial Engineers, Orhan, who, despite being a slave and milkface (a derogatory term used by blueskin Roburs – a nation e ...more
I shook my head. “I’m not a court of law,” I said. “I’m not bound to do what’s just, or what’s right, or what’s in the interests of the human race. If I was, you’d be warming your hands by a nice big fire right now. But I’m not. And I reserve the right to be wrong, if I choose to be.”
This is my story, and if I choose to make myself look as good as I think I can get away with, why not?
But from the title we can get the idea and expectation about the novel, and it is pretty accurate: It is a low fantasy about defending a walled city. We can expect humors as per we can expect from
Edit: After a second read I have decided this may be Parker’s best work. But what do I know? It made me laugh more times than I can remember. I really needed that. So that’s all right, then.
“…as a wise man once said, the difference between luck and a wheelbarrow is, luck doesn’t work if you push it.”
I have put off reading this book. I didn’t want to do it. The reason isn’t what you probably expect. You see, K.J. Parker is my favorite author, and I always have issues when reading his books, because I don’t want them to end. The best way to keep a book from ending? Don’t start it.
My logic is flawless.
Anyway, I decided enough was enough. It wa ...more
Not that I’d have been that interested - I’ve always been more interested in the w ...more
Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!
Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City is an unexpected book that felt really unparalleled in style to anything I've read recently. I could already tell from the synopsis that this was going to be different from other stories, but I really wasn't sure what to expect from it. The end result was an amusing and creative story with an incredibly snarky and dry-witted protagonist th ...more
I want more of this.
When's the last time you read a book that uses an engineering corps as its main point of focus?
Orhan, colonel of the Corps of Engineers, has to defend the city from an approaching army. With limited supplies, few soldiers and opposing factions within the city, Orhan wheedles, connives, lies, devises, and invents to try and hold off the inevitable.
Dry humor, w ...more
There is plenty of sarcasm, wit, heroism, poignancy throughout the book. The main character is brilliant and he, basically, carries the story on his shoulder. The side characters would be great in any other book but here, they are overshadowed by the brilliance of the protagonist.
If there is one nit I have to pick at, it is the fact that most situations are contrived and like a magi ...more
Balls, balls, balls.
To say I'm annoyed at that ending would be a towering understatement. It simply ruined what had gone before, and what had gone before was quite wonderful. I was pressed to give it five stars, I had enjoyed it that much.
In summation: balls.
Manuel Antão argues that this is really science fiction rather than fantasy: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... It's also engineering fiction, which suits me: I like the engineering mindset. And read Anna Feruglio Dal Dan's wonderful s ...more
I need a continuous dosis of K.J. Parker to brighten up my day. When I grabbed that eArc of How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It I found out that I should first read this novel because it is the first in the series. What a happy accident, as I enjoyed this fantasy comedy greatly and highly recommend reading it - at least if you like snarky first person perspective by an elder protagonist Orhan who happens to be an engineer and talks a lot about nerdy stuff like siege engines, bridge buildi...more
Here's an excerpt in which the narrator has ...more
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 lifest ...more