Author Spotlight: K. J. Parker

In our Author Spotlight feature, we’ll be focusing on a different author every month – be it a classic writer who has stood the test of time or a new author destined to be a future classic. This section is designed to give an introduction to those who have always been tempted to try a certain author, but are unsure about where to start. We hope it will give you all the tools and inspiration necessary to embark upon a new reading adventure, to dip your toe in the waters of possibility and – who knows? – perhaps dive head-first into a whole new universe!

With a new novel out this month, K. J. Parker is getting a lot of attention! You might want to start out by reading reviewer Jared Shurin’s recent essay on ‘Why You (Yes, You!) Should Be Reading K. J. Parker’.

Who is K. J. Parker?

K. J. Parker is an author who’s been writing fantasy for over a decade now – creating gritty, realistic fantasy worlds that are almost entirely without magic and magical creatures. Parker says:

I don’t have heroes and villains for the same reason I don’t have dragons and goblins; I believe that all four species are equally mythical.” 

Having worked in the law, journalism and numismatics, K. J. Parker now writes and makes things out of wood and metal. Parker is married to a solicitor and lives in southern England.

So where should I start?

Sharps, a fantasy novel by K. J. Parker. Cover shows a fencer standing on cobbled streets, pooled with bloodK. J.’s new novel SHARPS has been called ‘the long-awaited gateway drug to Parker’s entire world’, and it truly is a great place to start reading!

A standalone book, SHARPS is the story of a team of fencers who take part in a tournament that will decide the fate of two warring countries.

Each of the fencers has their own reasons for fighting – some are there willingly, some are not – and it is hoped that their tour in enemy territory will help turn a truce into peace, the end of a decades-long war. But the sport is fought differently over the border: it’s bloodier and more brutal, and there are those who would rather see them fail.

Parker has written several other standalone novels.  THE HAMMER is a story of feuding colonial families in a land surrounded by hostile ‘savages’, and a young man who pays the price for defying his family. THE COMPANY is about five war veterans who decide to start a new life on a faraway island, only to discover they’ve brought the war with them.

THE FOLDING KNIFE is a great fan-favourite, with scheming to rival that in Machiavelli’s The Prince and a fascinating main character:

Basso the Magnificent. Basso the Great. Basso the Wise. Basso the Murderer. The First Citizen of the Vesani Republic is an extraordinary man. He is ruthless, cunning and, above all, lucky. He brings wealth, power and prestige to his people. But with power comes unwanted attention, and Basso must defend his nation and himself from threats foreign and domestic. In a lifetime of crucial decisions, he’s only ever made one mistake.

One mistake, though, can be enough.

The Trilogies

The three covers to K. J. Parker's fantasy series The Fencer Trilogy

Like SHARPS, K. J. Parker’s very first fantasy series also concerned fencing. The Fencer trilogy follows Bardas Loredan, a ‘fencer-at-law’ in a city where lawyers fight cases with swords, not words. He will be called upon to defend his city from a terrible attack. The series begins with COLOURS IN THE STEEL, followed by THE BELLY OF THE BOW and THE PROOF HOUSE.

The three covers for the Scavenger trilogy of fantasy novels by K. J. Parker

The Scavenger trilogy begins with SHADOW, continues with PATTERN, and ends with MEMORY.

A man wakes in the wilderness, amid scattered corpses and inquisitive crows. He has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. The only clues to his former existence lie in his apparent skill with a sword and the fragmented dreams that permeate his sleep.

Alone in a hostile world he moves from village to village, masquerading as a god to obtain food and shelter. But the shadow of his past pursues him relentlessly. It whispers to him a riddle far more complex than he could ever have imagined – and a truth he may not wish to believe.

The three covers for the Engineer Trilogy

The Engineer trilogy is about a man who just wants to go home, and who will tear the world down to get there . . .

When engineer Ziani Vaatzes is sentenced to death for a petty transgression of guild law, he flees his home city, leaving behind his wife and daughter. Forced into exile, he plots an elaborate revenge – one that will leave a trail of death and destruction in its wake. This trilogy begins with DEVICES AND DESIRES, followed by EVIL FOR EVIL and THE ESCAPEMENT.

What are people saying?

‘A prime contender for greatness . . . a terrific, unforgettable, all-consuming, wholly original reading experience’
Orson Scott Card

‘Impressive . . . there’s a mordant wit to the workings of Parker’s mind’
Time Out

‘Exactly what the fantasy genre needs’

‘I was hooked from the very first scene . . . these fantasies (without a whit of magic) explore the human condition and reveal it all, brain, heart, guts and bowels, with a startling precision’

‘Parker raises the bar for realistic fantasy war craft’
Publishers Weekly

Sharps is a book of subtlety, nuance and rather fun adventure that is masterfully executed. And it only gets better the more you think about it’

‘Packed with sharp edges and provocative points, Sharps may be the book that fantasy readers have been waiting for . . . the long-awaited gateway drug to Parker’s entire world’