Monday, May 07, 2012

Devices and Desires, by K. J. Parker

Devices and Desires: An Irresistible Tale of Corruption, Betrayal, and Revenge, by K. J. Parker

Wow. This first installment of The Engineer Trilogy is a strong start to the series. The lead character is an mechanical engineer; considering the bulk of the story involves a war between neighboring states a politician or warrior would be more usual, but the setting of this fantasy novel is a place with no magic and no gods, so having a logical, methodical lead is quite sensible. In this world engineering is a closely guarded secret possessed by only one country, meaning only one country possesses effective war machines. When a talented engineer is found guilty of a seemingly minor transgression and sentenced to death, events are set into motion that will change the balance of power on an unfathomable scale.

One of the underlying tenets of the novel is that while love is something everyone wants to have, it is also the cause of virtually all sorrow as well because people will do anything to obtain it. "Love ... is the most destructive force in the world, doing more harm than war and famine put together." "All the evil in the world, all the harm and suffering it's possible to come to, are concentrated in one place; in love." Indeed, our hero starts a war that will kill people on an heretofore unprecedented rate simply to overthrow his former country, vacate his conviction and exile, and return to his wife. An engineer seems an odd character to have such a Machiavellian grasp of human nature to orchestrate such a world wide upheaval, but in his own words, "People are easy enough to figure out, if you make an effort."

Even though this is 600+ pages, I largely read this in a single sitting during a recent trip to England. I found this so compelling I didn't sleep for the entire flight, making for my first day on the ground a long one! Though set in a world very different than ours, Parker has a few innocent winks at pop culture scattered throughout; my favorite was a paraphrase of my favorite moment in The Replacements: "You know the old saying: pain's temporary, glory is forever, and the girls dig the scars." Awesome.

Intricate and engrossing, I loved this novel and can't wait to read the next in the series!

First Sentence:
"The quickest way to a man's heart," said the instructor, "is proverbially through his stomach. But if you want to get into his brain, I recommend the eye socket."

1 comment:

Terrill Richardson said...

I was wondering how this was. Glad to hear you like it. I will download it today since I was just looking to find my next novel.


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