cover image Mightier Than the Sword

Mightier Than the Sword

K.J. Parker. Subterranean, $40 (136p) ISBN 978-1-596-06817-9

Fans of Parker (a pseudonym of humorist Tom Holt) and cunning storytelling will enjoy this twisty novella, which is enhanced with glimpses of a fantasy empire fighting decline. An imperial legate is sent by his aunt, the empress, to learn the identity of mysterious raiders who are destroying the empire’s book-filled monasteries and slaughtering the monks. The legate is well educated in warfare and classics, and aided by the sage advice of his lover (of whom his aunt ostensibly disapproves), a sex worker who decides to travel with him after one of her clients injures her. While he tours the remaining monasteries and their incredible libraries, plots are afoot that may prove far more dangerous than the vicious raiders. As riddles and questions pile up, the legate stumbles through. Parker’s mastery of tangled webs and deceptive appearances is in full force here, and readers will savor his usual sly style. (July)