A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by KJ Parker

 This is the true story of Aemilius Felix Boioannes the younger, the intended and unintended consequences of his life, the bad stuff he did on purpose, and the good stuff that happened in spite of him.

It is, in other words, the tale of a war to end all wars, and the man responsible. (Taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Orbit Books and Angela Man for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. A Practical Guide to Conquering the World is available now.

K.J. Parker once again knocks it out of the park with this third installment in the Siege trilogy. Felix’s accidental machinations (accidentally, on purpose?) and his wry observations make for an incredibly clever and vastly entertaining fantasy.

Felix is a busy guy. He’s an ambassador/translator to the Echmen, who becomes the last Robur, as everyone else in his country is completely wiped out. In between trying to survive, he reads a crap-ton of books (hiding in a library when everyone wants you dead isn’t a horrible idea, to be honest, and is a good bit better than the alternative), escapes with a Hus princess that he saved from execution due to a grammatical error, sort-of starts a new religion, and…what am I forgetting? Oh, yes. Conquers the world.

In case you couldn’t tell, this isn’t your typical fantasy and Felix isn’t your typical main character. First of all, he’s not a warrior by any stretch of the imagination. Secondly, he’s a linguist who knows several languages (he is fluent in twelve and can do okay in nine others). Thirdly, he’s not necessarily trustworthy, which lends itself to the question: does any of what happens actually occur in the way he describes? It’s a fantastic puzzle to mull over and one which added another delicious layer to this unique concoction.

The Hus princess is a fantastic addition to the story. She is a foul-mouthed bundle of teenage pissiness. Watching Felix translate her insult-laden words into more socially acceptable ones (it’s best to be diplomatic when trying to avoid death) never got old. That she also becomes a religious symbol makes it doubly funny. While it’s not necessarily a comedic fantasy, life can be hilarious at times, and this book had me laughing out loud at parts.

One thing I really appreciate about author K.J. Parker is the amount of time he spends on the different cultures in his world. There are multiple religions and no less than six creation stories! He’s also an excellent study of human nature, making A Practical Guide to Conquering the World fascinating and surprisingly relatable.

If you are looking for a stabby sort of fantasy, this book will disappoint you. But if you want something a wee bit different, check this out. A Practical Guide to Conquering the World is a massively enjoyable foray into the mind of an unreliable but undoubtedly smart man who may have more planned than he chooses to admit.


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