A Practical Guide to Conquering the World, K.J. Parker (Orbit 978-0316498616, $17.99, 384pp, tp), January 2022.
A Practical Guide to Conquering the World winds up the Siege trilogy K.J. Parker started with Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City. While that first book and the second, How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It, were amusing and engaging on their own terms, the third installment lacks the zest and dimension of the others. Instead of providing a fresh view from a new angle on what happened next to “The City” and those who once lived in it, A Practical Guide to Conquering the World is a by-the-numbers retread of what made those books work.
There is Felix, a hero (who doesn’t want to be a hero) who finds himself saving a group of people he doesn’t really like from events well beyond their control. Only he finds a way to control them, this time by starting a religion and befriending a prisoner (but not in that order). Felix’s people-of-origin were wiped out, but he decides to go looking for them once he has the means, which brings the trilogy around full circle in many ways.
Even a lackluster book by Parker (AKA Tom Holt) is still not a terrible way to pass the time, mind, but the Siege trilogy started with such a bang that its end feels like a letdown.
Adrienne Martini has been reading or writing about science fiction for decades and has had two non-fiction, non-genre books published by Simon and Schuster. She lives in Upstate New York with one husband, two kids, and one corgi. She also runs a lot.
This review and more like it in the December 2021 issue of Locus.
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