Upcoming: PROSPER’S DEMON by K.J. Parker (Tor.com)

ParkerKJ-ProspersDemonJust a quite post to draw your attention to this, the latest novella by master of the form K.J. ParkerProsper’s Demon is out in late January 2020, and is easily one of my most-anticipated books of next year. Here’s the synopsis:

In a botched demonic extraction, they say the demon feels it ten times worse than the man. But they don’t die, and we do. Equilibrium.

The unnamed and morally questionable narrator is an exorcist with great follow-through and few doubts. His methods aren’t delicate but they’re undeniably effective: he’ll get the demon out — he just doesn’t particularly care what happens to the person.

Prosper of Schanz is a man of science, determined to raise the world’s first philosopher-king, reared according to the purest principles. Too bad he’s demonically possessed.

Parker’s novellas are among some of my favourite reads of the past few years. The Devil You Know, in particular, cemented his place among the ranks of my favourite authors.

Prosper’s Demon is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on January 28th, 2020.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You KnowThe Last Witness, and Downfall of the Gods

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Upcoming: MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-MyBeautifulLifeUSToday, Subterranean Press announced the latest novella by K.J. Parker that they will publish: My Beautiful Life. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything Subterranean Press has published of Parker’s, although I have allowed myself to fall behind a bit. (Parker is a prolific writer of novellas and short fiction, and the publisher has released a number of anthologies that are tricky to get ahold of outside of the US, but I’ve been working on collecting them all.) If you are familiar with Parker’s Tor.com novellas — The Devil You Know (one of my favourites) and The Last Witness — then I’m sure you’ll want to pick up this latest books.

Due to be published in November 2019, here’s the synopsis for My Beautiful Life:

As the ironic title indicates, Parker’s latest tells the story of an individual life that takes extraordinary turns. As the story begins, the nameless, dying narrator takes us back to his childhood home in a remote corner of the ubiquitous Empire. The second of three sons, he lives there with his mother in a state of unrelieved poverty. Life eventually becomes so dire that the mother — who can only find work as a prostitute — is forced to sell one of her children. The oldest son, Nico, volunteers to be sold in order to protect his family, and that decision sets in motion everything that follows. Nico’s journey takes him, in time, to the heart of the Empire and the very center of power. Over time, he acquires considerable power of his own and uses it to bring his younger brothers into the circle of his influence, changing their lives forever. Under Nico’s guidance, the middle brother — our nameless narrator — achieves a destiny that will alter not only his own life, but the life of the Empire itself. 

Written with wit, economy, and considerable style, My Beautiful Life is at once a profoundly gripping narrative and a rueful meditation on the workings of fate. Equally suitable both for long-time fans and for newcomers to Parker’s fictional universe, it is an essential — and hugely enjoyable — addition to a distinguished body of work.

As I mentioned above, Parker has published a number of titles with Subterranean Press, including: Father of LiesAcademic ExercisesMightier than the Sword, Downfall of the Gods, and Savages.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You KnowThe Last Witness, and Downfall of the Gods

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

New Books (January-February)

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Featuring: Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Barbara Bourland, Douglas Brinkley, Justin Call, Melissa Caruso, James S.A. Corey, David Dalglish, Arwen Elys Dayton, James Ellroy, William R. Forstchen, James Alan Gardner, Danny Goldberg, Christopher Golden, John Gwynne, Bobby Hall, Wayne Holloway, Harris & Nick Katleman, Janna King, Snorri Kristjansson, Stéphane Larue, Elise Levine, David Mack, Wil Medearis, K.J. Parker, Brian Raftery, Astrid Scholte, Cavan Scott, Adam Scovell, Ian St. Martin, Douglas Waller, Joakim Zander, Helen Zia

[UK Links are Amazon Affiliate Links, just FYI]

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Quick Review: DOWNFALL OF THE GODS by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-DownfallOfTheGodsAn entertaining tale of gods behaving badly

If you visit the Temple and ask nicely for forgiveness, you might get it — assuming you aren’t Lord Archias and you haven’t killed the Goddess’s favorite musician, Lysippus. But even goddesses are expected to follow certain rules, and as much as she wants to punish Lord Archias it seems her troublesome, all-powerful father forbids it. So the Goddess will just have to get around that by forgiving Lord Archias if he can manage some simple — or, rather, seemingly impossible — tasks. A Goddess has to do what a goddess has to do.

And in World Fantasy Award winner K.J. Parker’s sharply inventive new novella Downfall of the Gods that means everything from soothing supernatural egos to accompanying the argumentative Lord Archias on an epic quest to save his soul… and get her own way. As the Goddess and her mortal charge make their way across the world to the Land of the Dead, a host of divine surprises await them. Could what they find at the end be the downfall of the gods themselves? Only time will tell.

“The generally accepted form of communication in my family is melodrama,” says the divine narrator of Downfall of the Gods. Fans of Greek and Roman mythology will certainly be familiar with this notion. In this novella, K.J. Parker turns his playful pen to dissecting humanity’s relationship with its gods, and how pernicious and frustrating the gods can be. A quickly-paced, well-written and amusing novella. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE TWO OF SWORDS, Vols.1-3 by K.J. Parker (Orbit)

ParkerKJ-TwoOfSwords-Vols.1to3

The Two of Swords has already been serialized over the past couple of years (not sure if it’s finished?). I’ve tried the first part, but I decided I wanted to wait for more of it to be available before diving in properly. I’ve often had mixed feelings about Parker’s work, but after reading the superb The Devil You Know and also The Last Witness, I want to read more of his stuff. Anyway, here’s the synopsis for Volume 1:

“Why are we fighting this war? Because evil must be resisted, and sooner or later there comes a time when men of principle have to make a stand. Because war is good for business and it’s better to die on our feet than live on our knees. Because they started it. But at this stage in the proceedings,” he added, with a slightly lop-sided grin, “mostly from force of habit.”

A soldier with a gift for archery. A woman who kills without care. Two brothers, both unbeatable generals, now fighting for opposing armies. No-one in the vast and once glorious United Empire remains untouched by the rift between East and West, and the war has been fought for as long as anyone can remember. Some still survive who know how it was started, but no-one knows how it will end.

The Two of Swords is the story of a war on a grand scale, told through the eyes of its soldiers, politicians, victims and heroes.

The series is published by Orbit Books in the US and UK, in October, November and December.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You Know and The Last Witness

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Quick Review: THE LAST WITNESS by K.J. Parker (Tor.com)

ParkerKJ-LastWitnessAn interesting short fantasy about memory and guilt

When you need a memory to be wiped, call me.

Transferring unwanted memories to my own mind is the only form of magic I’ve ever mastered. But now, I’m holding so many memories I’m not always sure which ones are actually mine, any more.

Some of them are sensitive; all of them are private. And there are those who are willing to kill to access the secrets I’m trying to bury…

I’ve had a rather mixed history with K.J. Parker’s novels. There’s never been any doubt that he is a great writer, but sometimes his novels have felt too plodding for my taste. With his short fiction, however, I have had a completely different experience. I loved The Devil You Know, another novella published by Tor.com, for example. Each new piece of Parker fiction I read, I become ever-more impressed at his creative range. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by K.J. Parker (Tor.com)

ParkerKJ-DevilYouKnowA superb, must-read novella

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.

But the assistant demon assigned to the case has his suspicions, because the philosopher is Saloninus – the greatest philosopher, yes, but also the greatest liar, trickster and cheat the world has yet known; the sort of man even the Father of Lies can’t trust.

He’s almost certainly up to something; but what?

I’ve had a very mixed relationship with Parker’s fiction. I’ve loved some of it, and I’ve found some to be painfully slow. The Devil You Know is… well, pretty much perfect. Parker’s writing is superb, the story excellently paced, and the characters fully fleshed out and realistic, despite the slim length of the novella. Read The Devil You Know, and it’s clear why Parker is so respected and beloved. This is a fantastic, must-read novella. Continue reading