Devices and Desires
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Devices and Desires

3.8 46
by K. J. Parker

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When an engineer is sentenced to death for a petty transgression of guild law, he flees the city, leaving behind his wife and daughter. Forced into exile, he seeks a terrible vengeance — one that will leave a trail of death and destruction in its wake. But he will not be able to achieve this by himself. He must draw up his plans using the blood of others...


When an engineer is sentenced to death for a petty transgression of guild law, he flees the city, leaving behind his wife and daughter. Forced into exile, he seeks a terrible vengeance — one that will leave a trail of death and destruction in its wake. But he will not be able to achieve this by himself. He must draw up his plans using the blood of others...

In a compelling tale of intrigue and injustice, K. J. Parker's embittered hero takes up arms against his enemies, using the only weapons he has left to him: his ingenuity and his passion — his devices and desires.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Parker raises the bar for realistic fantasy war craft with this series opener."—Publishers Weekly on Devices and Desires"

When so many fantasy sagas are tired, warmed-over affairs, a writer like K.J. Parker is more of a hurricane than a breath of fresh air."—Dreamwatch"

A richly textured and emotionally complex fantasy...Highly recommended."—Library Journal (Starred Review)

Publishers Weekly

Parker (the Scavenger trilogy) raises the bar for realistic fantasy war craft with this series opener. When the engineering guild sentences Ziani Vaatzes to death for improving on its supposedly perfect specifications for mechanical toys, he manages to escape Mezentia and throws in his lot with its recently defeated enemy, city-state Eremia. In exile, Vaatzes sets up shop making weapons, but his real goal is to create a new kind of engine-one made of human components, designed to reunite him with his family. He painstakingly executes a slow-moving master plan involving love, betrayal and secrets among the two countries' leaders. The tragic aftermath of the climactic battle forces a rereading of all that went before. It takes some hard slogging to get through assiduously researched technical descriptions of everything from dressing a duke to hunting a boar, and a few too many coincidences and expository speeches mar Parker's otherwise exquisite feat of literary engineering. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Those who prefer epics painted in sophisticated shades of gray to ultimate battles of good and evil will relish this first volume of a trilogy, published in the U.K. in 2005. The Perpetual Republic of Mezentia operates according to the principles of mass production; however, those principles are so calcified that innovation is not only stifled, it's punishable by death. When weapons engineer Ziani Vaatzes is condemned for making a nonstandard mechanical doll for his daughter's birthday, he manages to evade his jailors and escape to the small duchy of Eremia Montis. Jealous of their secrets, Mezentia is prepared to exterminate all of Eremia to prevent Vaatzes from passing on any of his knowledge. Meanwhile, Vaatzes is concocting a complex scheme that will allow him to return to his beloved wife and child. This scheme, which Vaatzes imagines as a vast machine, involves war on a massive scale and betrayals both large and small. Thousands will be destroyed in the operation of Vaatzes's device, but he simply doesn't care, as long as he gets to go home. After a flood of books that revolve around the fight for a throne, the destruction of evil and/or the search for a long-lost magical McGuffin, it's refreshing and innovative to read a work whose plot is based on simple and deeply personal stakes. Highly recommended, especially to readers tired of the usual thing.

Product Details

Publication date:
Engineer Trilogy Series , #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 2.10(d)

Meet the Author

K.J. Parker is a pseudonym.

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Devices and Desires (Engineer Trilogy #1) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Due to its incredible industrial base with advanced technology, the Mezentine Republic is the superpower. Two neighboring people, the Vadani and the Eremians resent their superiority. Whereas the Vandai leadership uses guile in its dealing with the powerful Republic, the Eremians invade only to be slaughtered by their foes due to superior technological weaponry especially the mechanical Scorpions.----------------- However, in the ruins of the slaughter, opportunity arises. Guild foreman and engineer Ziani Vaatzes has fled the Republic to avoid execution for breaking the rules. He offers the Eremians his knowledge of weaponry for safety and the opportunity to see his beloved wife and daughter one last time. However, Mezentines realizing that Ziani may sell them out and attack the Eremians to insure they remain the sole superpower.------------------ The first book of the Engineer Trilogy is a fascinating look at power mostly through the machinations of the scheming lying Ziani, who manipulates people as he climbs the social pyramid to get the support to meet his obsessed goal. He does this with the backdrop of nations selling violence and control as the key to regional ownership of a global economy. Although the antihero Ziani¿s skills are incredible, luck and coincidence helps him stay alive while his plausibility index is somewhere over Everest and his ethics somewhere in hell as he sacrifices innocent people to further his cause. Still this is an entertaining tale of one man who to achieve his quest requires him to be Machiavelli and Rove.------------ Harriet Klausner
adent More than 1 year ago
I knew nothing of this writer and just picked up D&D in the store and started browsing the first few pages - still like the physical visit to a store for that unplanned selection. You certainly have to work with the writer (The exposition takes the whole of this book and the others in the trilogy). Strong characters - no black and white here - all seem to have redeeming and dislikable traits and these again evolve over time. The book gets pretty technical at times as we learn how to defend a castle, build cross-bows, etc but with Parker this learning is great fun. Buy the trilogy and that is the summer's reading sorted out!
-Z- More than 1 year ago
I am certainly no book critic but I did not want to see such a superb book sit at 3.5 stars. This book is filled with intrigue, stunning visual descriptions and a flow that makes it very hard to put down. The author has done a terrific job of getting readers to understand and relate to the plot and its key players. To add to its appeal this novel strays from the typical knight in shining armor hero's tale and instead is played out on a much darker field where you find yourself enjoying the lies and betrayals of Ziani as he builds his mechanism of revenge. Tens of thousands die, friends and heros are betrayed, and unlikely heros emerge from the fray. All in all I found this book fantastic and I think anyone with half a brain would also. If your idea of fantasy is wizards hurling fireballs or knights slaying dragons, of which this book has none, then perhaps you would be disappointed. But I doubt it. Kudos to the author, buy it, read it. You will not regret it.
LN_Adcox More than 1 year ago
“Devices And Desires: An Irresistible Tale of Corruption, Betrayal, and Revenge NOT A LOVE STORY The author described this first book of the Engineer Trilogy as a love story. But it is only a love story in that love serves as the primary motivator of the main characters even while they admit that love is an illogical motive. It is also the motivator that results in the death of many thousands of people. K. J. Parker’s expertise in world building is one of the attractions of this book as his novel plays out across a landscape inhabited by three civilizations with a four savage warrior civilization, the Cure Hardy, held back by inhospitable desert. The Duchy of Eremia and the Duchy of Vadani resemble medieval civilizations minus the cross bow and scorpion. In contrast, the Perpetual Republic of Mezentia is an industrial society governed by powerful competing guilds. Every aspect of society is influenced by politics and personal rivalries. I thought it seemed familiar and then realized it wasn’t much different than my workplace. Religion is notably absent from all three societies but the engineering specification attains the level of the sacred. Ziani Vaatzes, a Mezentian engineering supervisor, violates this principle, is sentenced to death, escapes and his determination to reunite with his family sets the story in motion. The only caution is that if you don’t intend to read the entire trilogy, you may not want to read this first book as the conclusion fails to answer all of the questions and sets up the next book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Valence More than 1 year ago
Devices and Desires is about a simple man who does simple honest work (a weapon engineer) but has the tinkerer's itch. Unfortunately this itch gets him sentenced to death, but he escapes, but to what end he does not know, since fugitives are hunted without mercy by his city, Mezentia, the most powerful city in the immediate area. By his engineering ingenuity and a fair does of luck, Ziani Vaatzes sets plans and people in motion to achieve one simple goal: to reunite him with his family. But there will be Hell to pay for standing against on "The Invincible Republic." This book reads somewhat like a psychology book in my opinion. I know that probably sounds strange, but there are no real static characters. Every major character has distinct personality quirks, strengths, and flaws. The intriguing bit is that the characters are very aware of these flaws and are constantly trying to justify them or change them. The character growth and development is a bit slow, but it is rich in its breadth, as nations clash and honor is pitted against common sense and duty is pitted against self-preservation. A real thought provoking piece that features both the wise and the foolish, the smart and the dumb. Many times characters will surprise you with what they decide to do in reaction to events surrounding them. This book is a bit of work to get through, mostly because of the backstory, but it really is a labor of love, because by the midway point you are sufficiently intrigued to see what happens next and by the end you are like "What?! Why would he/she do that???" and then you are left with a decent cliff hanger and the fate of nations lie in the balance of what is to come next. Also, as I myself an engineer, I appreciate the methodic mindset that the author takes when describing the Mezentine Empire and how Ziani perceives others and how they perceive him and his fellow Mezentines. Lastly, the book gets 4/5 stars because of the slow start. If somehow it could have picked up the pace quicker, it would have easily earned 5/5. I'm looking forward to the next two in the trilogy :) .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantasy writing that can be considered literature
KWR57 More than 1 year ago
Story telling at it's finest. Interesting premise and believable characters you want to read about. Politics, intrigue, knights, castles, it's got it all. I'm already on the 2nd installment of the trilogy and enjoying it as well.
Buck_Thunderstud More than 1 year ago
A wonderful tale of what one man will do when not the whole world, but HIS world, is on the line. For the entire series, the only thing I can complain about is that The Escapement is very short by comparison. All in all, this series doesn't disappoint.
BigBrad77 More than 1 year ago
This is a trilogy that started very strong and then faltered. it's as if the writer had greta confidence in laying out the world and the character, and setting events in motion, but after the climactic events of book 1, wasn't sure where to go. Book 2 was IMO a letdown and book 3 just gets bogged down in some not-very-interesting siege developments. My advice is, try this and if you like it pick up #2 with some tempered expectations.
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Tinker_Nich More than 1 year ago
From the first few pages to the end of the final book I was completely enthralled by this story. So many twists and turns in the plot that you never know what comes next.
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thisguy More than 1 year ago
i read alot of science fiction, and this series by kj parker is the best that i have read ! from the very begging it will hold your attention. its about an engineer whos sentenced to death for an unfair ruling ! and the plot just gets better and better ! i strongly recommend it !