cover image Savages


K.J. Parker. Subterranean (, $40 (392p) ISBN 978-1-59606-615-1

Parker delivers another solid standalone adventure filled with political and social intrigue. The titular savages (the Aram Chantat from 2012’s Sharps) only gradually come to the forefront of the plot through their alliance with a corrupt, failing republic under the auspices of Calojan, a great general. Calojan—whose father was once the republic’s greatest pornographer, a running gag that Parker handles with admirable subtlety—needs arrows to make the Aram Chantat happy, and he strikes a deal with Aimeric, a pacifist, to make them. Aimeric, a student wrangling with family debts, finds himself compromising his values again and again even as he rises to power. Both men’s stories intersect with those of a man on the run, a forger, and a counterfeiter. Parker occasionally relies a little too strongly on coincidence or an unbelievable setup, and the pages-long exposition dump in which the Aram Chantat political system is explained is painfully clumsy. Female characters get only a tiny fraction of the author’s attention. But there’s much to enjoy in the well-crafted action, battle sequences, and assorted political and social twists within a society in upheaval. (July)