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Colours in the Steel (Fencer Trilogy) [Paperback]

K. J. Parker
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

25 Mar 1999 Fencer Trilogy (Book 1)

Perimadeia: the famed Triple City and the mercantile capital of the known world. Behind its allegedly impregnable walls, everything is available. Including information which will allow its enemies to plan one of the most remarkable sieges of all time.

The man called upon to defend Perimadeia is Bardas Loredan, a fencer-at-law, weary of his work and of the world. For Loredan is one of the surviving members of Maxen's Pitchfork, the legendary band of soldiers who waged war on the people of the plains for many years, rendering an attack on the city impossible. Until now...

But Loredan has problems of its own. In a city where court cases are settled by lawyers disputing with swords not words, enemies are all too easily made. And by winning one particular case, Loredan has unwittingly become the focus of a misplaced curse from a young woman bent on revenge. The last thing he needs is to be made responsible for saving a city.

Frequently Bought Together

Colours in the Steel (Fencer Trilogy) + The Belly Of The Bow: Fencer Vol 2 (Fencer Trilogy) + Pattern: Book Two of the Scavenger Trilogy
Price For All Three: 23.24

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (25 Mar 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857236106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857236101
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 10.8 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 445,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review of the most entertaining fantasy debuts in recent years...incredibly vivid, refreshing, fun, thoughtful, absorbing (SFX)

An intriguing tale of magic, manipulation and action-packed adventure. (STARBURST)

A remarkably accomplished tale for a debut novel. (BLACK TEARS MAGAZINE)

Book Description

The first volume of the acclaimed fantasy series reissued with a stunning new cover style.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Never having heard of the author, I bought this on impulse (maybe the magic working its quirky effect on me? - no headaches though!) and Joy! - something refreshingly different! Here is an author who is obviously intimately familiar with law, fencing, medieval ballistics and human interaction. I don't know the gender of the author, but the style 'feels' distinctly feminine - no I don't mean Barbara Cartland, more like Barbara Wood or Sheri Tepper - but with all the extra fine detail that sets it apart. Add to this a wry, self-depracating humour and a magical theme that runs through as a mostly unobserved undercurrent and you have a book that almost sets its own genre. I'm still trying to work out who really is the magician in all this.... maybe the next book will reveal more? Oh, I sincerely hope it fulfils the promise of this one - rarely have I read such a wonderful book, especially a debut novel..... more please! I can't recommend this highly enough.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Having been reading the fantasy genre for many years, I have become jaded with the stock formulaic swords and sorcery epics that seem to the norm these days. Thus, have bought the book on a whim, without any preconceptions, it was a delight to find a consistent universe, character driven, yet with a refreshing twist to it. The main protaganist is a lawyer, yet in this world, law is decided by the art of fencing - to the death for serious cases, to first blood for civil matters - divorce and so on. The background to this is that of the internal and external politics of the city-state in which it is set.
I cannot promise huge swashbuckling magical duels, yet magic is a part of this world, but in a subtle way, that leaves you wondering, rather than the mechanistic science of magic derived from role-playing spinoffs. (I must admit, they *are* however one of my weaknesses as a sub-genre!)
However, the plot is riveting - the main character is a fencer-at-law, and a semi-disgraced ex-soldier. Now retired from active practise, he teaches, and attracts a pupil with a hidden agenda. He is also called upon to lead the city militia. As a parallel plot, a new leader for the plain tribesmen arises, and, makes a trek to the city, to learn the ways of technology. This, he applies to the art of war, with ominous consequences...
This book was, in short, a very good read, and has had me scouring the net for details of the second book promised in the series. Oddly unhyped, partly due to the unsensational nature of the story, it stands head and shoulders above its current rivals, and is as engaging as early Brooks, or even, oddly, reminding me of Snow Crash, by Stephenson. Buy it and read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strikingly successful debut novel 17 Nov 2012
Triple-walled Perimadeia is one of the richest city-states in the world, famed for its teeming markets and its impregnable defences. After decades of trying fruitlessly to take the city, one of the plains tribes comes up with an ingenious idea: send one of their own to get a job in the city arsenal and learn its secrets from the inside.

Even as an ambitious young chieftain's son plans the most audacious siege in history, life in the city goes on. Bardas Loredan, a former soldier, now works as a defence advocate. In the courts of Perimadeia cases are settled through swordplay and Bardas is very good at what he does...until a vengeful young woman hires the city's Patriarch to curse him.

Colours in the Steel was originally published in 1998 and was the debut novel by the enigmatic K.J. Parker. It's also the first in The Fencer Trilogy, although it also works quite well as a stand-alone book. It can be best described as a sort-of anti-epic fantasy. The trappings of much of the subgenre are present: swordfights, large armies, sieges, military manoeuvres, magic (more or less) and prophecies (kind of). However, most of this is window-dressing, with the focus being on Bardas Loredan and his troubled family life, and on young Temrai, the chieftain's son and spy who ends up plotting the genocide of a city he actually quite likes.

As with Parker's later books, Colours in the Steel has a cynical vein of black humour running through it. There are musings on the futility of revenge, the pointlessness of warfare and the quite insane meanderings of the military bureaucracy (there's more than a whiff of WWI incompetence to the leaders of Perimadeia and their military judgement during the siege).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent book 19 Dec 2000
By A Customer
I agree with the review by the other reader. This book is brilliant. It grips from the word go and is a real through to early morning read. But the sequels are a poor relation and not worthy of mention. Buy this and read it is as if it were a single tome - and enjoy it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stupendously Well-Written 7 April 1999
By A Customer
I also bought this book on a whim, expecting the formulaic fantasy nonsense so common now. The first few paragraphs convinced me I was reading excellent prose, full of wit and insight, by an author of great talent. I cannot disagree with a single comment made by the reviewer from Cambridge. It has indeed been unhyped, and may well pass unnoticed by the Fantasy/Sci-Fi community. It would be better found on the shelves of 'General Fiction', so excellent a literary effort is it. I, too, am off to find a copy of the next book, "The Belly of the Bow." Read them. They are not easily forgotten.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
Couldn't put it down. The research into old techniques - in all three books - make for a fascinating story. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mellish
5.0 out of 5 stars Great but only for those with a strong stomach
I am a huge KJ Parker fan, but i would not like to live in his head. Definatly adult only book, and even some adults may find themsleves having nightmares. Read more
Published on 2 April 2011 by D. Beecher
3.0 out of 5 stars Hang on... This is familiar...
This is not the first Parker book I've read - I started the Engineer trilogy back in 2005 and enjoyed the mix of real life engineering and political intrigue. Read more
Published on 12 April 2008 by ellenvannin
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book but avoid the sequels - seriously
As a number of other reviewers have mentioned, this is an enjoyable book with some quite likeable characters. Read more
Published on 4 April 2008 by hokers
2.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this thoroughly - BUT...
I enjoyed this book: it was well-written and entertaining. The information Parker provides (throughout the trilogy) on weapons / weapons-making is fascinating, and his characters... Read more
Published on 6 Mar 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable!
This was the only book I have bought without being sure that I could get the next in the series. Am I ever glad that I did! By the end of the first chapter I was hooked. Read more
Published on 15 Oct 2000
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but the series is a disappointment
Why do I give colours in the steel only three stars if I thought it was a "great book." The problem is, you read this book. Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2000
1.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Disappointing
Having read the reviews by Orbit and other Amazon readers I ordered this book. It has a new and intriguing idea at it's centre,agreed, but it is totally spoilt by the 20th. Read more
Published on 17 May 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Rivetting. different. I loved it, im buying the sequel.
I'm doing this author the highest honour possible and shelling out hard earned cash on the next one because this was so good. Read more
Published on 13 April 1999
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