cover image Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City

K.J. Parker. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-27079-3

Parker (Savages), the more sly and bitter pseudonym of comic fantasist Tom Holt, launches a witty adventure series set in a fictional world with features similar to the Roman Empire. The infectiously optimistic Orhan, colonel-in-chief of the Engineers, is away building a bridge when the unnamed capital city comes under siege. After the soldiers are ambushed and killed and the noblemen flee the city, there’s no one left to defend it, so Orhan sneaks his team of carpenters into the city to help. As a former slave and a “milkface,” he is the wrong color for a leader, occupying the lowest level of society among the blue-skinned elite Robur. Nevertheless, the local citizens, Robur and milkface alike, rally around the fast-thinking, faster-talking, and resourceful Orhan. The enemy at the gate is 100,000 strong, armed with trebuchets, and led by a tactical genius who’s been planning the siege for decades. When Orhan realizes he has a connection to the enemy’s leader, he begins to question why he’s defending the empire that enslaved him and killed millions of his people. Orhan is a comical, exceptionally lucky, unreliable narrator. Readers will appreciate the infusion of humor and fun-loving characters into this vivid and sometimes grim fantasy world. (Apr.)