The Two of Swords: Part One

May 2, 2017 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

oneThe Two of Swords: Part One by K.J. Parker


I plan to read all of K.J. Parker’s novels this year. I had planned to read them in chronological order, starting with the Fencer trilogy, but I got caught up with my ebook novella reading project, and figured The Two of Swords would be a good place to start. What can I say? Starting on the first of twenty-three novellas sounded less daunting than starting the first in a 1500+ page trilogy.

Of course, reading this novel in its parts is less than ideal, since it will likely take a few entries to get a sense of what the story is about. I’ve seen other reviews that suggest holding off on judging it until you’re three entries into it, but if the author is going to release them one-by-one, I’m going to rate them one-by-one. True enough, Part One is mostly exposition, though Parker starts to lay down the approach of his story. In short, this book is going to be about war, told from a variety of different viewpoints.

Part One focuses on war from the perspective of the soldiers. We’re in a Medieval fantasy world, where the soldiers are conscripted from the surrounding villages in a kingdom. The army is made up of the young men, and the point-of-view character for this part is Teucer, a skilled archer. Parker tells his tale of leaving home, joining the army, going to battle, fighting, and then returning home, all in an effort to show what the war means to the common man. He’s accompanied by Musen, another recruit from his village, and the two of them together share this journey. In true Parker form, though, the journey they take is far from what you would expect from a Medieval fantasy war story.

Readers of Parker’s fiction will recognize his ascerbic, wry style that borders on irreverence. They will also recognize the somber undercurrent of his narrative, as Parker doesn’t shy away from the cruel reality of his stories. What we find in Part One is the constrained chaos of being in an army, crossed with the real dangers of being in that same army. In other words, it’s very much a K.J. Parker story.

This isn’t the strongest start to the series, but it’s engaging enough to keep me going. I understand each part of the series is going to focus on another viewpoint into the war, and I’m curious to see if it will be a parallel story, or a continuing one. I’m in for the long haul, though, so I’ll let you know what I find.

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