Review: How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It, K.J. Parker

Rating: 5 out of 5

Mr Parker’s joyful style as he takes the persona of Notker is a pleasure to experience. Not only is the account as humorous as that of Orhan, it is also just as prescient regarding politics and life. Notker was a pleasant guide to the City though the constant references to acting became slightly tiresome towards Act 2—the middle part of the book—though Mr Parker also stepped back on these slightly after so he might have had the same thoughts.

The book concerns itself with the seventh year of the Siege. Given the first year was covered in the first episode in this series, there’s a question whether one should have read that prior to jumping into this book. I don’t think that it’s necessary! Most of the action would have worked just as well without. There are very few references to characters from the first book, and even where these exist the background doesn’t reveal anything major, though it might be a bit of a spoiler going back into the previous one to know who lived and who didn’t.

It turns out that the seventh year of the siege is a right pain. Notker accidentally falls into the office of the person who is meant to protect everyone, and he does his job well. Good back-and-forth goes on between the City and its opponents, and a little bit more care is now put into developing the world and its history around the City. This was a welcome development, as it made the entire world the events are taking place in feel more thought-through.

A very enjoyable fantasy!

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