The Two of Swords: Part Two

May 4, 2017 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

swords2The Two of Swords: Part Two by K.J. Parker


Part Two of Parker’s war epic takes us behind the scenes of the commanding soldiers, through the eyes of a prisoner of war. Musen, the secondary character from Part One, is our main character, and he’s surviving as a thief in the camp of one of the other armies near the ocean. He’s a craftsman, with more loyalty to other craftsmen than he is to his own countrymen, and one of the questions he asks near the end is the main theme of this novella: “What is the war about?”

We’re still in full-on exposition mode here, meaning that we’re getting less plot in the story than we’re likely to see later on. The first two parts of this epic are self-contained pieces, but it’s still not clear where Parker is going to be taking us on this journey. He’s not shifting from character to character without a reason; it looks like he’s bridging the novellas by writing each one from the perspective of a character who’s featured in the previous one, so the story keeps progressing in a natural way. It makes me wonder if we’ll return to these characters in future parts, or if they’re each going to be one-and-done, with the main characters showing up as (possible?) secondary characters in future pieces. Either way seems like a good approach, so I’m not concerned.

Parker’s in his usual style here, too, with his trademark wry, sardonic prose. Still, he’s not one to take too lightly despite his irreverent approach; bad things happen here, and sometimes for no good reason at all. Then again, the question raised here is “What is war about?”, and maybe this unfair chaos is his answer to that question.

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