World Fantasy Award winner K. J. Parker's newest novella Mightier than the Sword presents itself as a translated oddity of a document called Concerning the Monasteries. But in true Parker style, this novella is instead a sprightly, riveting tale that reveals secret upon secret, building to an ending at once perfect and perfectly unpredictable.
An Imperial legate is called in to see his aunt, who just happens to be the empress running the civilized world while her husband's in his sick bed. After some chastisement, she dispatches her nephew to take care of the dreaded Land and Sea Raiders, pirates who've been attacking the realm's monasteries.
So begins a possibly doomed tour of banished relatives and pompous royals put in charge of monasteries like Cort Doce and Cort Maleston, to name a few. While attempting to discover the truth of what the pirates might be after, the legate visits great libraries and halls in each varied locale and conducts a romance of which he knowsbut doesn't carehis aunt will not approve. With enough wit and derring-do (and luck), the narrator might just make it through his mission alive…or will he?
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mightier than the Sword is a sort of Canterbury Tale-like retelling of "Concerning the Monasteries", the personal document of the narrator that relates how he traveled in search of the pirates who were attacking and pillaging monasteries throughout the Empire of the Robur in medieval times. Our somewhat reluctant hero is the nephew of Empress Eudoxia Honoria Augusta and, along the way, he spends time with his aunt's best friend, Svangerd, Abbess of Cort Doce, and his own best friend, Stachel, Abbot of Cort Sambic as well as others before discovering the truths behind the raids. What ends with a number of surprises is mostly a pleasant story with interludes of off-scene violence at a handful of monasteries. The surprises, though, turn everything topsy-turvy but what happens to, and because of, our narrator are what had to be to complete the story and his destiny. K. J. Parker is a pseudonym for Tom Holt, used for his fantasy writings. I first read Holt's many novels that are a wacky sort of science fiction and fantasy blend chock full of humor and satire and loved them so much that, when the bookstore was open, I had an account with a British book wholesaler just so we could stock his books (and a few others). The man makes me laugh out loud so I was not surprised to see hints of his comical side in Mightier than the Sword like this exchange: "Rabanus isn't a Mesoge name. What do they call you back home?" He grinned. "I'm Hrafn son of Sighvat son of Thiudrek from Gjaudarsond in Laxeydardal." "Fine," I said. "I'll call you Rabanus." Although I don't read a lot of high fantasy, this novella called to me because of the author but it also sounded like just the sort of thing to while away a couple of hours and, besides, how could I resist a tale that has so much to do with books? ;-)