Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City

K. J. Parker
Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City Cover

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City


This author's specialty is faux histories related by his trademark self-interested, dishonest unreliable narrators who are nevertheless extremely clever and possessed of a sly, dry wit. Though it unfolds slowly, with occasional flashbacks, asides, and interludes, this novel is the compelling story of how a "simple" engineer, the "last man standing" after the city's main defenders are taken out by ruthless deceptions, manages to prevent an army of many thousands of troops from taking the city it is besieging, by employing brilliant strategic tricks, feats of engineering, and sleight-of-hand.

What's less expected is the underlying commentary on racism, colonialism, classism, and the insidious ways these forms of oppression manage to enlist their victims into aiding that oppression, along with examinations of loyalty and friendship through the lens of competitiveness, self-interest, and self-destructiveness.

Fans of Parker's other works, and people who like stories of clever battle strategies, will enjoy this. People who prefer Hollywood endings, probably not so much.