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review 2016-04-27 22:00
The Devil You Know Review
The Devil You Know - K. J. Parker

The greatest philosopher of all time is offering to sell his soul to the Devil. All he wants is twenty more years to complete his life’s work. After that, he really doesn’t care.

 

Okay, so this was my first KJ Parker book that I've actually picked up.  I have is other series on my TBR list, but until I finish a few of the series that I've started, I haven't wanted to start a new one.  Now, all that being said, technically, The Devil You Know is the second book about Saloninus.  The upside is the two books do not need to be read in order.  In fact I haven't read Blue and Gold, the first book about Saloinus, and I didn't have any trouble following along with the story line.  Mostly because this story isn't so much about Saloninus, but the demon he summons.

 

I read this book again before writing this review, mostly because I wanted to make sure I read it right the first time.  The Devil You Know is a novella, but I feel like so much sort of happens in just 128 pages.  It was in fact nothing I thought it was going to be when I first requested it from the library, but that was alright.  The book went a little deeper and made me think.  All while I was enjoying both of our characters.  Anyone who can make you root for a demon is doing something right in my book.

 

K.J. Parker created a wonderful world in just a little over 100 pages of story.  In just a few short pages I was able to see some of the world through our main characters narration, and Mysia is now one of the fictional places I'd love to go. 

 

If asked, I probably couldn't pick a favorite of our two main characters in The Devil You Know.  Personally I adore them both for different reasons.  Both the demon, whose name we never get, and Saloninus are both well thought out and rounded characters.  Our demon is flawed because he is sort of a hive mind set when it comes to how he is do things.  Which sort of hinders him while dealing with Saloninus.  The hive mind keeps him from seeing the whole picture as it were.  As for Saloninus, he's a crafty thing, but as you read you see how his lifestyle as sort of ruined him.  Which kind of make you bleed for him a bit, but I had to admire just how underhanded Saloninus was in all of this.  Clear up until the last page he had even me fooled.

 

The only real complaint I have about the book was in the beginning when the book would switch point of views it would take a minute to realize who our narrator was.  In fact there was a couple of times I had to go back and reread to see that the demon was no longer telling us the story, but Saloninus.  However, once I got use to the personalities it was easy to see who was leading the story. 

 

At the end of both reads I had come to the same conclusion, I really enjoyed this novella.  I was sad that it was so short, but I felt the length was perfect.  Any longer and it might not have been as good.  I like that the plot moved quickly and nothing pulled away from the demon trying to figure out the Father of Lies ploy.  In fact, I have already added Blue and Gold to my TBR.  I really do adore Saloninus.  

 

Personally, I reccomend this book to anyone, especially those who are a fan of the play Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlow.  The Devil You Know has a sort of similar theme to it. Really it's a fun and quick read that I'm glad I didn't wait too long to pick up.  Really glad this novella slid across my screen a few months ago.

 

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review 2016-03-09 13:17
The Devil You know
The Devil You Know - K.J. Parker

The greatest philosopher (and trickster) of his time, Saloninus offers his soul to the devil in exchange for twenty more years to complete his work. Although suspicious, the devil agrees and they spend the rest of the time together. When time starts running out, in this Faustian story it is the devil who's getting nervous...

 

I really enjoyed this story. It's quite short but it was still told well. I'm always a fan of Faustian stories, and this was no exception. What I liked was that there was a world around it that we get to see some glimpses from. It made me curious to other stories set in the same world. One minor thing that was confusing: sometimes it was difficult to follow who's POV we were following, as this switches a lot and Saloninus' and the devil's voice sounded quite similar.

 

Would recommend!

 

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2016-02-11 22:04
RELIGIOUS SATIRE ISN'T MY THING
Downfall of the Gods - K. J. Parker

Downfall of the Gods is a novella which attempts to be a clever and witty portrayal of the antics of a pantheon of gods; a pantheon which is very similar to the ancient Greco-Roman deities. No, the divine names are not the same as in the Greek myths, but it is fairly obvious who each divinity is here: their child-like petulance, mind-numbing mischief, and bipolar personalities giving them away. But while many immortal beings strut across the stage, the real star of this show is the musings of one goddess, detailing her philosophical journey of discovery regarding religion.

Artemis . . . (Ahh. Well, she isn’t ever called Artemis, but that is who she appears to be, so I’m going to call her that.) So, anyway, Artemis begins this story by walking into her temple after a long, hard day of being a prostitute and finds that a rather important member of her divine flock is prostrating himself before her huge statue, begging for forgiveness. It seems he has plotted and killed his close friend, who slept with his wife and constantly mistreated him, but now he has truly repented of his evil deed, wishes he could take it back and is begging for forgiveness. There is a problem: Artemis has no intention of forgiving him, because the murdered individual was her favorite musician!

Actually, I misspoke, because there is another, even more pressing, problem. You see, no matter her divinity, Artemis has rules she must abide by. Divine covenants forged between the gods and their human followers that provide for forgiveness upon repentance. And no god or goddess is above these rules, which is why Artemis is soon summoned before her father!

Needless to say, daddy Zeus isn’t happy with his headstrong daughter. Their discussion (and Artemis’ inner monologues) detailing what is expected of her, the serious drawbacks of godhood and the rather uselessness (at least, in Artemis’ eyes) of mankind’s devotion to god(s) in the first place.

Eventually, however, (after much philosophical arguments) a compromise between Zeus and Artemis is brokered: the goddess agreeing to grant forgiveness to her follower IF he completes a quest to the halls of the dead and brings back his victim’s soul. A journey which Artemis will accompany him on, providing her divine guidance and support — whenever she feels like it.

Thereafter, the tale zigs and zags between Artemis’s interactions with her divine family (Who appear to be about as worthless as she continues says they are.) and her human follower (Who is about as blindly devoted to her as anyone could be.) Each scene serving more to provide reasons to pontificate on the ridiculous of religion than to actually create a compelling narrative or develop realistic characters. In fact, nothing terribly exciting happening throughout (other than philosophical musings on religion) until the rather ironic ending is sprung like a mouse trap upon the unsuspecting (or, should I say, the suspecting) audience.

If one was to look for strengths and weakness in this novella, the strength would undoubtedly be the goddess character herself. She is a very fitting, well-crafted narrator, who muses upon and bitches about religion, faith, and the inherent limitations of any divinity upon the fate of the world. And through the uncovering of her personal inadequacies and her ridiculous arguments, the story develops from a rather quest oriented tale to a full blown religious satire, or religious parody, which does its best to encompass all religions in its virulent mockery.

As for the weakness, it would be the fact that this is a religious parody. Whether you are a believer in some form of religion or not, no doubt, we can all concede that the exercise of faith is a very personal experience which people become very attached to and do not enjoy being ridiculed. Anytime a person makes light of, mocks, or labels a person of religious belief as ignorant or illogical for feeling a certain way, I personally find it in poor taste. It really is the same as telling a joke about minorities or same sex couples or over weight people or anyone else, and to me, it isn’t clever or witty or funny in the least. And here, the author spends over a hundred pages making arguments regarding the idiocy of religion; every epiphany of the characters further espousing the useless of god(s) and the need for mankind to cast aside such illogical beliefs in divinities. Perhaps some part of the narrative in this vein could be understood, but after finishing this novella, I felt as if I’d spent an hour reading a sermon for atheism rather than a fantasy story.
description

All in all, Downfall of the Gods is a fine read IF you undertake it understanding what it is. This is a religious satire, a religious parody, which definitely has an agenda to cast religion in all its myriad forms as illogical, adolescent, and ridiculous. Nothing wrong with that as long as you agree with that form of discrimination. If, however, you — like me — are searching for a rousing fantasy adventure story to excite and awe you, then this one is probably something you should skip.

I received this book from Subterranean Press and Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank both of them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Source: bookwraiths.com/2016/02/11/downfall-of-the-gods
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review 2015-07-29 09:39
Eigenwillig, aber exzellent
Sharps - K.J. Parker

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 mein erster Berührungspunkt mit der Arbeit K.J. Parkers, den ich gern als vollwertige, wenn auch fiktive Persönlichkeit akzeptiere.

 

40 lange, blutige Jahre lagen die Nationen Scheria und Permia im Krieg. Nun wird nicht mehr gekämpft, von Einigkeit sind die beiden Länder jedoch weit entfernt. Um den Frieden zwischen ihnen zu stabilisieren, wird ein Fechtteam aus Scheria nach Permia geschickt. Vier FechterInnen, ihr Teambetreuer und ein politischer Offizieller sollen dem ehemaligen Feind die Hand reichen und durch den populären Sport zur Völkerverständigung beitragen. Die Tour bietet dem Team allerdings weder Spaß noch die Möglichkeit, wirklich mit dem Volk Permias in Kontakt zu kommen. Es häufen sich Ungereimtheiten und unliebsame Zwischenfälle, Blut wird vergossen. Die FechterInnen werden zu Spielbällen der Politik beider Länder, deren Mächte die Friedensmission zu korrumpieren gedenken. Können sie ihre Mission trotz dessen zum Erfolg führen und so einen erneuten Krieg verhindern?

 

Wow, was für ein anspruchsvolles, intelligentes Buch. „Sharps“ muss sich hinter all den komplexen Fantasy – Reihen definitiv nicht verstecken – obwohl es ein Einzelband ist. Die Brillanz dieser Geschichte liegt eindeutig in der detailreichen Darstellung politischer und wirtschaftlicher Umstände, Konsequenzen und Intrigen. Die tatsächliche Handlung spielt sich im Hintergrund und oft im Geheimen ab; was K.J. Parker schwarz auf weiß niederschrieb, sind die Folgen dieser versteckten Handlung. Auf diese Weise ergibt sich ein äußerst spannungsgeladenes Gesamtbild, das ich in seiner Struktur ungewöhnlich und beeindruckend finde. Ich glaube nicht, dass ich schon einmal einen ähnlich weitsichtigen, erwachsenen Low Fantasy – Roman gelesen habe. „Sharps“ war eine Herausforderung; nicht nur hinsichtlich der englischen Sprache, sondern auch bezüglich der beschriebenen politischen Situation. Der noch immer schwelende Konflikt zwischen Scheria und Permia ist kompliziert, da es in beiden Ländern verschiedene Strömungen gibt, die völlig entgegen gesetzte Interessen verfolgen. Die Wirtschaft wünscht sich Frieden, weil Krieg ein teures Unterfangen ist, das den Zugriff auf wichtige Rohstoffvorkommen verhindert. Die alte Militäraristokratie hingegen möchte die Macht der Wirtschaft beschneiden und selbst erneut die Führung übernehmen, die sie im Laufe des Krieges an Banken und Minenbesitzer verlor. Beide Länder sind so gut wie bankrott und durchleben eine Phase der Schwäche und Unsicherheit, solange der Frieden nicht bindend festgeschrieben ist. Aus dieser Ausgangslage heraus wird das Fechtteam aus Scheria ins ehemals feindliche Permia geschickt, als Zeichen des guten Willens. Das Team selbst ist ein zusammengewürfelter Haufen von Menschen, deren patriotische Gefühle keinesfalls ausreichend sind, um für den Traum der Einheit Scherias und Permias mit dem Degen zu kämpfen. Sie alle wurden mehr oder weniger in den Dienst gepresst und ungenügend auf die Mission vorbereitet. Von Anfang an hatte ich den Eindruck, dass das ganze Vorhaben unweigerlich zum Scheitern verurteilt sein musste und je mehr Hindernisse sich den FechterInnen in den Weg stellten, desto deutlicher wurde, dass undurchsichtige Kräfte im Hintergrund an Schräubchen drehten, die Scheria und Permia erneut in einen Krieg stürzen könnten. Es entstand eine Atmosphäre, in der ich das Gefühl hatte, niemandem mehr trauen zu können, nicht einmal dem Autor. Geheimnisse und Intrigen in Hülle und Fülle lenkten die Szenen in Richtungen, die ich unter keinen Umständen vorhersehen konnte. Immer wieder war ich bis ins Mark erschüttert und überrascht, meine Erwartungshaltung wurde alle paar Seiten gekippt, bis ich überzeugt war, der ungläubige Ausdruck habe sich in mein Gesicht gebrannt. Es ist nicht ganz einfach, sich gedanklich durch eine Geschichte zu bewegen, in der man sich nicht sicher fühlt – aber mir hat das einen Heidenspaß gemacht. Es war eine neue, extravagante Erfahrung, weil meine Beziehung zu „Sharps“ dadurch von gänzlich anderer Natur war, als ich es sonst gewohnt bin. Ich sollte mitdenken und zusehen, aber nicht teilnehmen, sondern verstehen lernen. Ich war Gast; ich musste mich nicht um Identifikation mit den zwiespältigen, ambivalenten Charakteren oder um ein fundiertes Wissen der dargestellten Welt bemühen. Mein Fokus sollte sich auf das Durchschauen des politischen und wirtschaftlichen Tanzes richten, den Scheria und Permia aufführen und ich denke, das ist mir durchaus gelungen.

 

„Sharps“ ist eigenwillig, aber exzellent. K.J. Parker ist kein gutmütiger Märchenonkel, der eine Geschichte voller Mantel und Degen – Romantik erzählt. Sein Verstand und seine Fantasie sind rasiermesserscharf, mit einem Hang zu Bissigkeit und Zynismus. Ich fand diesen Roman fabelhaft, obwohl er mir einiges abverlangt hat, weil er nach seinen eigenen Regeln spielt. Er ist unkonventionell und fordernd; es gibt keinen Anker, an dem sich die LeserInnen festhalten oder orientieren könnten. Es gibt ja nicht einmal Kapitel. Das macht es schwierig, „Sharps“ zu empfehlen, denn diese Form der recht experimentellen Fantasy ist vermutlich nicht jedermanns Sache. Daher möchte ich euch raten, vor dem Kauf unbedingt in die Leseprobe von Orbit Books reinzuschnuppern. Für mich ist „Sharps“ ein Geheimtipp, doch ich kann einfach nicht einschätzen, ob andere das genauso empfänden.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/29/k-j-parker-sharps
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