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)
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
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.