Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Devices and Desires by K J Parker

This edition January 2010, Orbit
548 pages, Paperback
Review Copy


Cushions: 4 (5 at the very end)
Daggers: 5
Paperclips: 1
Smiles: 3
Tissues: 2
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

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.

I don't think I could get away with paraphrasing my tweet upon finishing this book 'NNOOOOOOOOOO! I want the next book NOW!'. I could try, but that wouldn't be doing the book justice.

Whatever you do, please don't think the engineer's tale is boring. The passion for the subject shines through the book. My knowledge of engineering is almost on a par with my knowledge of football. yet I found the insights fascinating. The idea that one nation would strictly enforce a law so that everything was made to a specification, and if anything was outside the limits, it was unacceptable and severe punishment would follow, is scary.

Vaatzes is supposed to be punished for such a crime. He escapes by committing further crimes, and ends up in the hands of enemy. Although enemy is such a loose term. Yes, both sides want to conquer each other. But, they really deserve what happens to them. Respective leaders in both areas make silly mistakes (which are funny to read about). Events are blown disproportionately out of control. While dukes are hunting, lords and ladies are scheming, one clever engineer has to set aside near-perfection to free his creative side.

Usually long lists of items, or in depth details over machinery has me skimming paragraphs. I didn't in this book. Vaatzes' enthusiasm is catching, I wanted to find out how his mind works. He uses his engineer's intellect to fighting skills. It's successful enough that he doesn't die in the book. He does it all for the family he can never see again, although he dreams about saving them and being with them.

His isn't the only story told - there are others, all of which are equally funny. It isn't a comedy per se, I just found some parts really funny. It is a book about a war, and how the two sides fight each other. However, the focus is on the smaller details. It is on the people's lives, how they feel about the situations they find themselves in, rather than pages and pages of battles.

Before I read the last few pages, I thought 'Yes, I'd like to read the rest in the series, but I wouldn't give it 5 heart rating'. After reading the very last pages, well, all I can say is that K J Parker is both mean and clever to end Devices and Desires on that note. It gets top rating for the ending. That twist has me more than a little eager for the next book in the Engineer trilogy, The Escapement. I will try to secure a copy for review.

K J Parker's new website is coming soon.

If you like the sound of this, try Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan


Simcha said...

This sounds like a wonderful book! I just added it to my list of books to acquire. Thanks for the review!

Nayuleska said...

You're welcome Simcha.