K.J. Parker, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City
He is a snarky narrator and tells us about his upbringing (a former slave) and all the tricks he has to use. Sarcastic remarks about the city's society and how he managed to get away with everything are fun to read.
The story's setting is a fictious historical scene constructed after late antiquity with some traces of medieval times woven into. The author is blatantly stealing names, techniques, historical landscapes and parts of historical societies of late antiquity and mixes them together in his story so that the historically uninitiated might take the story's background for real. But it isn't. It is cleverly made and it is interesting to guess while reading, what Parker was using to make up his book. But nothing of it is historic.
The book is complete fiction. It is called "fantasy" on the cover, but it misses all supernatural elements that make up fantasy books: no gods, trolls, whatsoever. So I have problems to find a suitable category. It is historical fiction but of a fictitious history. Perhaps the author was too lazy to write real historic fiction about characters and events that are documented in historical records. I'd guess that this always sparks unwanted comments from historians who criticise various aspects of the adaption of the real history. And so Parker wrote this hodgepodge of fictitious historical fiction. Or perhaps history is not enough; Parker seems to have been writing a ton of books in similar settings; even a sequel to this book here.
I liked the book a lot. It is funny and interesting and thrilling. Only Orhan the narrator's tendency to make snarky remarks gets a little predictable throughout the story. Puns and snide remarks you can see coming from pages aways stop being entertaining. This makes a very special writing style that can become quite annoying after lots of pages. So I think I will wait some time until I try reading other books by K.J. Parker.
It's a light and entertaining read. Go and borrow it and give it back afterwards!
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