Blue and Gold

April 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm (Reads)

blueBlue and Gold by K.J. Parker

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Had this been the first thing I’d read by K.J. Parker, I might not have glommed on to him as an Author to Read like I have. Then again, the first thing I read by him — The Last Witness — may not have done it all by itself, either. It took me reading The Devil You Know to see how brilliant of a writer he is. It also helped that I had already read The Devil You Know, since Saloninus features in both stories, and since I already knew what happened when he murdered his wife, which is what happens in this novella.

Oh, no, don’t worry; that’s not a spoiler. He tells us that in the opening paragraph.

Saloninus also tells us that he’s a liar. Sometimes. When it best suits him. He then proceeds to tell us a tale of alchemy, old friendships, royalty, and immortality. Is he telling us what actually happened? Maybe. He changes the story as he tells it, telling us when he lies, and giving us additional information as it suits him. Either way, it’s entertaining.

Parker’s style is all his own. It’s this lackadaisical narrative that sounds spun out while he’s telling the story, enough to make you wonder if he’s making it all up as he goes along. By the time he gets to the end, you see how well he knew what was coming, leading you in one direction while actually taking you down a different path. Or else he really is making this stuff up as he goes along, and manages to spin his ramblings into something coherent at the very end. Either way, it’s impressive.

I don’t find Blue and Gold to be as impressive as Purple and Black or The Devil You Know, only because it lacks the kind of emotional punch those stories had. The ending will take you by surprise, but only in the same way that a well-told joke or a bad M. Night Shyamalan movie might. Still, a K.J. Parker story will take you on a ride, and even his less effective stories will make an impact. I can’t wait to tackle one of his longer works.

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