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Showing posts by: Jared Shurin click to see Jared Shurin's profile
Dec 5 2013 12:00pm

The Folly of the World Jesse Bullington

The Under the Radar series is our chance to highlight books that we believe have gone unjustly unnoticed—recent books that, through quirks of time and space, have somehow slipped through the cracks.

Jesse Bullington’s The Folly of the World (2012) is almost wholly indescribably, so, be warned, although I’m approaching this with great enthusiasm, there’s not a lot of detail involved. At the highest, most hand-wavey conceptual level, Folly is about, I suppose, quirks. And also time. And hey, even a bit of space. And it is definitely about slipping through the cracks—physically, in society and in reality itself.

Is that a little too vague? I’ll start over.

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Oct 17 2013 2:00pm

We See a Different Frontier

Justin Landon introduced the concept of “Under the Radar” two weeks ago with his inaugural post—the goal is to give a helping hand (or, at least, a waving one) to recent books that, in our personal opinion, deserve more attention than they’re currently getting.

When we started bandying around the idea, I was midway through my first pick—and, to me, there couldn’t be a book that’s a better contender for this category: We See a Different Frontier, edited by Fabio Fernandes and Djibril al-Ayad—one of the best speculative fiction anthologies I’ve read this year.

Sep 6 2013 10:00am

library ...and why wouldn’t you? Book collecting is one of the greatest hobbies there is. It combines beautiful, interesting objects with the excitement of the hunt and, who knows, maybe even the possibility of making some money! Worst case scenario—you wind up with a lot of books. There’s no way to lose.

Still, this is a decision. Collecting isn’t just hoarding—randomly accumulating lots of books is no bad thing, but collecting requires a slightly more strategic approach. You need to figure out what you want, why you want it and, perhaps most importantly, what you’ll do to get it...

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Jul 26 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife KJ Parker

Welcome back to the final entry in our reread of K.J. Parker’s The Folding Knife. I’m going to use this final week to give all the final and definite answers to the book.

Ok, just kidding. But I thought I’d try to end with five extremely big thoughts, wrapping up the themes of the book and my own personal conclusions. Of course, by “wrap up,” I only mean the structured part of the reread. Please continue the discussion in the comments—the fun never needs to end!

[Read more]

Jul 19 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife KJ Parker

Well, that was messy, wasn’t it? The last chapter gave us a moment of brilliant hope—Bassano as hero! The Vesani win the war!—then took it all away from us in the final, agonising lines. Bassano’s dead, and three-quarters of the army are gone with him.

What happens next?

Chapter Seventeen is a classic denouement—it isn’t just the final resolution of the plot, it also neatly tidies up all of the character arcs. Well, maybe not too neatly...

Oh, and, hey. Spoilers.

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Jul 12 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife

Last chapter was all about raising the stakes. Bassano and Aelius are wandering around the woods of Mavortis with the entire Vesani army. If they win, all is well. If they lose, Basso’s a ruined man—emotionally, politically, financially… and the repercussions could bring down the entire Republic.

Chapter Fifteen treated us to an endless procession of Basso’s “band-aids,” as he kept everything together whilst waiting for the news. And the end of the chapter? News!

[Read more.]

Jun 28 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife

Last chapter we saw the first cracks. The conquest of Mavortis started as planned, but then got a little too involved. And expensive. Then things started going wrong. Is Basso’s legendary luck on the turn? With Bassano lost in the woods (both figuratively and literally), this could spell disaster.

[Read more.]

Jun 21 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife

Last chapter saw the first blood shed of the Vesani invasion of Mavortis. But in Chapter Fourteen, it gets real… the Republic’s army has landed and is getting down to the bloody business of making war. Meanwhile, Basso has a few fights of his own.

[Read more.]

Jun 14 2013 9:00am

KJ Parker The Folding Knife

In the last chapter, we saw the Vesani Republic (soon to be Empire) scaling up for the invasion of Mavortis. Maps, mercenaries and mine ponies, all summoned up by Basso’s grand vision. The only flaw in the great plan? Basso’s own sons.

Nothing a little bribery couldn’t sort out.

[Read more.]

Jun 7 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife

The last chapter had another assassination attempt, but the result wasn’t quite what the killers intended: Basso’s alive, well, and reunited with Bassano. With his dynastic ambitions on track, it’s time for some good ol’ fashioned militarisation!

[Read more.]

May 31 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife

Last chapter was particularly eventful (in the traditionally uneventful way of The Folding Knife). Basso monologued, expounding his grand vision and overarching scheme to Melsuntha and Bassano. The war! The empire! The vast wealth! The Severus dynasty! All, of course, for naught. At the end of the chapter, Lina outfoxed Basso and left him sulking in the dark.

Chapter Eleven spends a lot of time tying up loose ends.

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May 24 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife Reread Chapter 10

Well, another long, adventure-packed chapter, but for fear of driving everyone nuts, we’ll try and do it in one go. Now that Aelius is back (with all the Vesani gold in tow), Basso’s got a chance to handle a few domestic problems.

Chapter Ten: A good deal is where both sides make a profit.

The chapter begins with Aelius’ “official” return to the City. Since he’s already had one triumph in the last year, he’s not allowed another. Basso encourages the House to vote Aelius a rather cruel/prestigious honor, The Order of the Headless Spear. It is… demeaning.

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May 17 2013 11:00am

The Folding Knife Reread Chapter Nine Part Two

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted after last week’s half-chapter. Breaking into the mint, breaking out of the mint, carrying 160,000 kilogrammes of gold back and forth… makes me nostalgic for quieter days of plague and assassination.

This week—and this half-chapter—the Vesani get their revenge. For our intrepid bank robbers have made a terrible mistake. There are only three real blunders, you see. Never get involved involved in a land war in Asia. Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line. And never, ever mess with Basso’s money.

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May 10 2013 11:00am

The Folding Knife Reread Chapter Nine Part One

We’ve had a few quieter chapters—plus a brief intermission for a short story—and a lot of sappy gooey lovey-dovey stuff. But this is fantasy, dammit, enough with the marriage arrangements and give us some swordplay! Heroism! Acts of derring-do!

Chapter Nine: “I did all right.”

On one hand, this is the easiest chapter to summarise:

  1. Thieves steal the Vesani gold
  2. The Vesani get it back

On the other, Chapter Nine is packed with more action and adventure than we’ve had in the previous eight chapters combined. And, arguably, more than we ever see again. So, for just this once (maybe), let’s get all, you know, plotty, and revel in the derring-do.

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May 3 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife by KJ Parker Reread One Little Room an Everywhere

Last week, we reached Chapter Eight in The Folding Knife reread and had a chat about Basso’s future plans, marriage and destiny. Chapter Eight felt like a peak—everyone was happy, things were going well—and, (mild spoilers) things start falling apart in Chapter Nine.

To give Basso another seven days of comfort, I thought we’d go off-piste a little bit and discuss one of K.J. Parker’s short stories, “One Little Room an Everywhere.”

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Apr 26 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife by K.J. Parker Reread Chapter 8

Last week, Basso got romantic. Or at least made vaguely marital noises. But now that the Vesani Republic’s most eligible bachelor is safely engaged, what’s next on the horizon?

This week’s chapter is another sedate one, but, really, everything’s just going so very well….

Chapter Eight: Lemon and whitebait

The chapter begins with a follow-up to the “currency crisis” of Chapter Six. At the time, Basso increased the purity of the Vesani nomisma—mostly to annoy the Optimate-controlled finance committtoree. As a result, Vesani currency has become the hottest buy in town (regionally speaking).

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Apr 19 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife K.J. Parker reread

Last week was apocalyptic mayhem with plague ravaging the city and assassins trying to take Basso out of the picture. This week, things are a little more intimate, as Basso tries to fulfill his part of the deal with Lina.

Chapter Seven: “The Phantom of Achievement”

Basso hires social secretary—Melsuntha. She agrees to serve as a representative for him when it comes to finding a wife (things are tricky, as he’s head of his own family, and that doesn’t happen too often.) Actually, she’s been hired for a little while. Basso likes her—she puts up with his shouting. Apparently she caught the plague but got over it, much to his relief.

They have an enlightening conversation about names.

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Apr 12 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife Reread K J Parker Chapter Six

As important as last week’s chapter was in establishing Lina and Basso and their relationship, it was a little… quiet.

This week, there’s no shortage of excitement. Plague and assassination ahoy!

Chapter Six: “If everyone dies, don’t blame us.”

A ship drifts into the harbour. The patrol sloop spots that everyone on it is dead of the plague. Immediately, the City goes into lockdown—the ship is burned, everyone that even went near it is quarantined, the harbour is chained off. Public spaces are closed, guards are given emergency powers, if the Vesani had Homeland Security, it’d be on Red Alert.

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Apr 5 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife Reread Chapter Five K.J. Parker

After the tumultuous events of the last chapter (when the Vesani began their first empire in a rain of fire and… er… poo), Basso and his chums get a well-earned break. Time to kick back and revel in the spoils of war.

Or something like that.

Let’s get stuck in.

Chapter Five: “You always have to attack, no matter what happens.”

Aelius returns in triumph—although the actual triumph (in the parading through the city sense) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Aelius is also a bit stressed. He’s now known as “General Cowshit” (snigger) and he’s stuck with the knowledge that he killed thousands upon thousands of people in a really foul way. Biological warfare is not conducive to a good night’s sleep.

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Mar 29 2013 9:00am

The Folding Knife Reread Chapter Four K.J. Parker

Chapter Four. War. Friendship. Family. Empire. Cow poop. Is it fair to say this is my favourite chapter yet? I think it is.

Let’s get into it.

Chapter 4: “The man who wins at the end is the man who can get the most out of defeat”

Basso surprises everyone by declaring war on the Kingdom of Auxentia. And by “everyone,” he baffles everyone: the House, his cabinet, Bassano, the Vesani people and even Aelius (who will have to wage said war).

Aelius joins Basso at his house, and the two talk war stuff. Aelius leaves to do his General thing. Bassano wanders in. He and Basso talk about the war, but mostly about Bassano’s future.

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