Nes were by Gorgas Loredan s insistence on repairing the damage he did to his family as a youth utterly unaware that his crimes are past the damage he did to his family as a youth utterly unaware that his crimes are past or forgettingElsewhere Parker continues to base his narrative around the trappings of medieval style warfare The first book revolved around swords and the second around bows with both standing as metaphors for the novels themes This continues in the third novel which is about armour and how it is tested to be proof against the pressures that will be brought to bear against it This thematic element is a bit overstated in this third volume with what was previously a subtle and clever analogy instead being rammed down the reader s throats with less nuance This is a shame as other elements are handled in a far enjoyable manner such as the final conclusions about the Principal including some interesting information about its temporal manipulation effects and the resolution of Temrai s storyline from the first novelThe novel s biggest weakness is the fact that a major new political power the Empire appears literally out of nowhere and is described as the largest and most powerful nation in the world with an army numbering in the millions individual provinces can field armies in the hundreds of thousands by themselves with its nearest borders being only a few hundred miles from Perimadeia Shastel and other familiar locations Yet it somehow went completely unmentioned in the first two novels of the series stretching credulity past breaking point This is a shame as the Empire is a reasonably well constructed fantasy nation as these things go and the increasingly bemused meta observations by one of its provincial officers on the plot is uite amusingThe Proof House is a clever novel that uses the trappings of epic fantasy to criticise the subgenre intelligently whilst also featuring some dark humour nuanced characterisation and an appropriately messy ending Some shaky worldbuilding and over egged thematic elements leave it as the weakest of the three novels in The Fencer Trilogy but still a worthwhile conclusion to the story Sub optimal conclusion to the Fencer trilogy 1630 pages later I m left asking myselfwhy What was the pointvague spoilers aheadview spoilerIt s not a hero s ourney Despite being a tactical genius the protagonist screws the pooch spectacularly in the climactic battle against his foil And despite having the reuisite heroically protective instincts and capabilities he also commits the single most horrific evil act of the series This was a fascinating turn of events but it puts paid once and for all to the possibility of the main character being a heroThe key to understanding the fate altering philosophicalmetaphysical Principle the series stand in for magic is dangled before the reader tantalizinglythen goes ignoredThe trilogy presents one captivating narrative after another and then ust meanders to an awkward halt We re informed that a bunch of important secondary characters were killed off screen as afterthoughts Just gone their ourneys truncated without resolution hide spoiler So this is really a review of the entire trilogy and it brings up an existential uestion Is the The Queens Fool / The Virgins Lover journey important than the destinationThe trilogy also brings up some philosophical uestions is violence in the service of securityustified among others but they were part of the Hometown Honey journey of the Loredan family and protagonist Bardas the fencer of the trilogy s titleWe are introduced to Bardas in the law courts of Perimadeia a huge trading city in a pre industrial world with an odd form of magic that can neither be controlled apparently or directed The Perimadeians have developed a uniue system ofustice if two parties cannot agree in a lawsuit they each hire a swordsman who duel to the death to determine which side wins the The Prince in the Royal Suite (Chatsfield Novella, judgment This is might as right in its most fundamental form a theme KJ Parker develops throughout the seriesIn fact the avalanche of violent death seldom stops through the three books though since this series was written in the early 2000s it s not bloody as recent efforts in this genre But Parker uses Bardas Loredan s skill at dealing death as a counterpoint to our sympathy for him which drives us through three volumes despite the fact that he shows basically no compassion for others and is incapable of returning affection even as he tries to do the right thingBut the interweaving plots of the trilogy involve numerous characters some appealing and some incomprehensibly evil In the end after three books Parker seems to have written himself into a corner he couldn t get out and The Proof House is the weakest of the trio primarily because it ends in a very very unsatisfactory not to mention almost completely unbelievable mannerThat said I enjoyed reading the series theourney but about 50 pages from the end I wondered to myself How is he going to wrap this up in a satisfying way The answer sadly is that he doesn t which brings us back to that existential uestion of how much weight the destination in this case somewhere unsatisfactory should carry in evaluating the ourneyI m still ambivalent because I did look forward to reading the books but I also can t get past the disappointment of the last few pages 4 and a bit starsWell I wasn t expecting that I must write a full review when I ve wrapped my head around this trilog. The land of the Plains people and Bardas Loredan is the one man Temrai the Great King of the Plains tribes fears the most The Proof House is the gripping hugely entertaining conclusion of KJ Parker’s Fencer Trilogy.
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ntil the last 50 pages I was certain that I was going to give this book five stars But endings are hard Not ust for trilogies they re hard for individual works as well This ending was a little too pat and than a little unsatisfyingThe voices of individual characters didn t seem as individuated as in previous volumes almost as if they were all speaking with the same voice The author s usual wry humor was manifest at a much higher level one that I might even typify as sardonically detached Given the running metaphors on the brutality of life and the narrative skepticism for all moral systems even pure utilitarianism this was not an inappropriate choice for toneAnd what a metaphor this book was Extending on the themes of the previous books being sword life as battle fight for what you get and bow crafting one s course in life and interplay of various tensions and the course on one s fate this book s theme was armor There s a section about 40% of the way into the book where the main character is observing the making of armor This section becomes a 12 page meditation on how the specific mechanisms of the creation of armor are entirely analogous to the psychological armor we craft and how buffetings and batterings shape us The section is so skillfully wrought that there are no strained points or tenuous connection From a detached agnostic to morals viewpoint we get a naturalistic exposition and elucidation of reactions and behaviors of the psycheBesides the metaphors some of the most cunningly crafted that I ve encountered the diction and language extended and served the narrative and the observations Repeated phrases instead of being merely tics serve to unify theme contextualize and ground the events one can make sense of circumstances richly thanks to the explicit parallelsI liked this book a lot but would not recommend it or the whole series to any who are easily put off by the amorality or at least skepticism of morality and a few uite gruesome scenes found inside For those not worried about these this is a richly if unevenly rewarding trilogy of books which rises far above the genre that it nominally inhabits When I started reading this book I thought I had skipped a book in the series as it starts many years after the events in the second book This book is uite different from the others in the series a lot metaphysical I did like the metaphor of the proof house but there was way too much repetition with that metaphor as well as the saying It s customary to die first but in your case we ve made an exception This book was too long and I became tired of reading about the same characters for three books in a row The entire time I was reading this it felt like a duty done ust to finish up the series which is a shame since I liked the first two books uite a bit There was also a lot less witty banter observations in this bookSome parts I did like within these 600 pagesp 18 Why do you talk
bookSome parts I did like within these 600 pagesp 18 Why do you talk yourself I asked Because it s the only way I ll get a sensible conversation around here he replied A good answer I always thoughtp 61 She stripped away the vine leaves to reveal a golden brown slab of cake dripping liuid honey and scattering crumbs of nut There really isn t a polite way to eat this stuff she said so the hell with it Here goes She opened her mouth as wide as it would go stuffed about a uarter of the cake into it and bit hardchokengtitiktitikchokeng 61 I prefer to listen Bardas replied Very sensible the woman said One mouth and two ears like my mother used to tell us when we were childrenp 67 Don t let s get cocky he said standing up and felling the weight of his armour across his soulders The worst words a general can ever utter are How the hell did that ever happen Kurrai smiled dutifully I don t know he said Between over cautious and cocky how do people ever manage to win battles They don t usually Temrai replied As often as not it comes down to who loses firstp 174 she might As often as not it comes down to who loses firstp 174 she might have a clue right now what a garboard strake was but by gods she d know all about the wretched things by the time Ven got home whereupon she could tell him as if explaining to a small child you know Ven the garboard strakes I thought everybody knew thatchokengtitiktitikchokeng 338 Temrai talking about the symmetry that he s now building fortifications to defend aganst Bardas Loredan It s like when we were kids and took it in turns to be the good guys and the bad guys Unfortunately I seem to have lost count so I m not sure which I am at the momentp 351 The easiest way to do anything is properlychokengtitiktitikchokeng 440 you only had to look closely at them to see they d never handled a weapon before in their lives But a poleaxe or a bardische isn t like a harp or a eweler s lathe you don t have to be terribly good at it to make it work in some fashionchokengtitiktitikchokeng 451 I try to be like a careful doctor I make sure my mistakes are buried before anybody sees themchokengtitiktitikchokeng 590 So what was it war really like Boring mostly With occasional interludes of extreme terror Depressing book not made better by the fact that none of all the characters in the book are even remotely likable Had a hard time getting through this Too bad as the series started out really well and this was a non ending or less There s a technical nerdiness that I can see as appealing and the chapter. After years spent in the saps under the defenses of the apparently impregnable city of Ap’Iscatoy Bardas Loredan sometimes fencer at law and betrayed defender of the famed Triple City is suddenly hero of the Empire. S regarding a battle were engaging but there s simply too much dreck and annoyance The ending was extremely satisfying howeverTo some extent I was wondering about the relationship of anti hero to really fucking annoying character It s interesting that not only is there not an unualified good guy but that there wasn t the cliche of loveable anti hero either None of the characters here were really likeable The problem is if you have a bunch of unlikeable characters do you try to keep them from being annoying to the extent that the annoyance gets passed on to the reader And how do they stay engaging The answer to the second I think is that they must be in interesting circumstances doing interesting things And I thought the story was successful with Bardas Gorgas and Temrai in that regard However all the other characters were The Story of Our Lives
just so awful it was a burden reading about them And they weren t awful in a grey ambiguous anti heroic way but in the way of someone who s really shrill and talks relentlessly about business on their cell phone when youust want to drink your coffee And they made up half the story When 50% of what I m reading makes me want to gauge my eyes out there s not much that can make up for thatSo Bardas and Gorgas get four stars and everyone else gets two stars and thus the rating 45 Parker never fails to amaze me with his uniue style and keen intelligence Would have been a perfect 5 if the the ending was gratifying Still It s customary to die first but in your case we ll make an exception The opening line of The Proof House the third in KJ Parker s Fencer Trilogy is an indication of what is to come throughout the final book in the trilogy The sheer number of characters present throughout the novel means there are numerous occasions for peril to emerge and several times when the situation has no resolutionAs with the second book the story arc continues where the last left off Set a few years into the future compared to events of the second story The Proof House explores what mischief the main characters have got themselves into in that time span With wars and skirmishes still threatening the peace and stability there is certainly enough trouble to go around for anyone wanting or not to be involvedThe main focus still remains with Bardas Loredan for the first part of the book but branches out While the rest of his family have their own story arc so do the other characters introduced in the first two books Needless to say there are times when there feels like too many characters Bardas is left for a chunk in the middle of the book while the adventures of the others are explored only to come back to him right at the end While the characters all have depth to them and are engaging the number of them means it weakens the end of the trilogy While the reader follows Bardas major events happen to the others that are summed Up In One Glance From Bardas Perspective in one glance from Bardas perspective no true answers are givenThe opening of the novel takes a new approach with a strong use of
true answers are givenThe opening of the novel takes a new approach with a strong use of It is Effective As A Play On The Senses Considering It Is
as a play on the senses considering it is place in darkness but also runs dry very uickly Thankfully apart from the aforementioned line appearing on serval instances and always italicised the repetition dwindles away for the rest of the novelAs with the previous books Parker s humour keeps the book engaging and gripping Despite events that are taking place wars murders plots treason and death and that s Chosen by the Lieutenant (Regency Brides of Convenience
just in a morning s work there is no weight to the book no being laden down with the intensity of the situation That is due to Parker s way of inserting a line here and there that has the reader laughing out loud breaking any tension and making the book enjoyable and humorous rather than only about warThe Fencer Trilogy is the second of Parker s trilogies I have read The level of description slows the pace down while the layers to the characters gives an in depth feeling to the various places mentioned Parker s skill with words means I have no doubt I will try and find the other trilogy If you are a fantasy reader who likes to be immersed in detail and can handle a lot of description without being bored then The Fencer Trilogy is a definite recommendation Thanks to the efforts of Bardas Loredan fencer turned bowyer turned sapper the city of Ap Escatoy has fallen allowing the Empire to begin its expansion into the lands held by the plains tribes Loredan is reassigned to an imperial proof house testing armour to destruction until his previous relationship with the leader of the tribes is discovered Loredan is the only person that Termai sacker of Perimadeia fears and the Empire plans to make good use of that fact in its invasionThe Proof House is the third and concluding volume of KJ Parker s debut work The Fencer Trilogy As with its two predecessors Colours in the Steel and The Belly of the Bow it s a novel that wears the clothes of epic fantasy but seems resolutely unimpressed by them Wars battles sword fights clashes of armies and so forth are all featured but presented with dripping cynicism and sarcasm by the author who is far interested in his characters The Fencer Trilogy is less about the trappings of the subgenre and about family relationships particularly the extremely dysfunctional to the point of murder Loredan clan The novel is driven as to some extent the previous His reward is a boring administrativeob in a backwater watching armor tested to destruction in the Proof House But the fall of Ap’Iscatoy has opened up unexpected possibilities for the expansion of the Empire into. ,