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The Belly Of The Bow: Fencer Vol 2 (Fencer Trilogy) [Paperback]

K. J. Parker
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 15 April 1999 --  

Book Description

15 April 1999 Fencer Trilogy (Book 1)
The city of Perimadeia has fallen. Bardas Loredan, the man who was supposed to save it, is now living on the Island - a recluce, living apart from his family in the mountains, with only a young apprentice for company. His life as a fencer-at-law is over. Instead, Loredon spends his days perfecting the art of bow-making. But his isolation will not last forever; and when the Island comes under attack, his skills as a soldier and general are once again called upon. COLOURS IN THE STEEL, Volume One of the Fencer Trilogy, introduced a remarkable new voice in fantasy fiction. THE BELLY OF THE BOW confirms that rich promise and establishes K. J. Parker in the top rank of writers.

Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (15 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857237560
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857237566
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,798,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

This sequel to Colours in the Steel shares its predecessor's refreshing iconoclastic view of what magic is- -the competitive manipulation of probability by the often unconsciously talented--and its well-informed sense of the practicalities of mediaeval warfare. In the earlier book, Parker managed to make fascinating the details of the catapults, rams and Greek fire with which horde-leader Temurai attacks the doomed city Perimadeia, and tired general Bardas Loredan tries to defend it. Now Bardas is in retirement, under the watchful eyes of the banker prince brother and sister he long ago disowned, and we learn with his apprentice how to make the longbows on which his family's war with their commercial rivals depends. The Loredans, gifted intellectually, magically and as fighters, are a family bound together by hatred and guilt; Parker's story is one of warfare and spell-casting, but what makes his novels is this sense of brothers and sister who will do anything to win back love, or refuse it. And, we discover, anything means things more horridly effective than we can begin to imagine. Inventive, savage, often touching and funny between the bloodshed and the viciousness, the second volume of Parker's trilogy is as good and impressive as the first. --Roz Kaveney


The great city of Perimadeia has fallen to its barbarian enemies, and its last commander, Bardas Loredan, is one of the few survivors, saved by the brother who betrayed the city. The Loredan family are a strange bunch, doomed by the consequences of past actions to endless attempts at reconciliation, or actions so appalling that no reconciliation will be possible. And they are also crucial to the financial manoeuvrings of this well-imagined world, where hostile take-overs are conducted at swords point ... K J Parker's The Belly of the Bow, second of the Fencer trilogy, is intelligent about perverse behaviour, about the logistics of conquest and resistance and about the way that power follows both finance and military might. He is also intelligent about the details of weapon making--in his first book Colours in the Steel, it was siege engines and here it is longbows--and about the working and consequences of magic--a pair of wizards who meddled in things they did not understand find themselves tinkering endlessly to make events less devastating, and running out of that luck which makes meddling possible. With two books, Parker has become a name to be reckoned with; his gloomy fantasies of fate and misadventure are not like anything else in the field. (Roz Kaveney, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW )

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twist, twist, twist 13 April 2008
This series certainly has lots of twists and turns.
I'm not certain you can say you feel entirely unsympathetic for the characters, but the author gives the Loredans extreme versions of ordinary flaws and perhaps makes you sit back and think 'wow, was I really starting to identify with him/her?' Certainly the last major plot twist come as a surprise like a punch in the stomach. Perhaps I should have seen it coming, but I don't think my mind was twisted enough to see it.

So yes, a warning to the squeamish, this book is probably not for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Shastel is a country owned and run by an academic foundation, whose bank holds the debts of its impoverished citizens in perpetuity. Spying an opportunity for profit, the Loredan Bank has taken over the nearby island of Scona and is undercutting the Foundation's economy, sparking a trade war that is in danger of turning very real and very bloody. For Bardas Loredan, living in seclusion as a bowyer in Scona's backwater, the last thing he wants is anything to do with the schemes of his ruthless brother and pragmatic sister. But he is soon drawn into the conflict, even as he comes to realise that his attempts to live a good life may be nothing more than a sham.

The Belly of the Bow is the second volume of K.J. Parker's Fencer Trilogy. At first glance, this is a slighter novel than Colours in the Steel. Whilst Colours centred around a massive siege and the attempts to defend a city, The Belly of the Bow is a much more personal story focused on the dysfunctional Loredan family. The war this time is more in the background, and played for maximum cynical impact. Parker's black humour and refusal to glorify the horrors of war combine to provide a damning indictment of violent conflict and the reasons for it.

As a personal, more character-focused story the novel takes a while to get going. The complex relationships between Bardas, his sister, brother and niece are built up steadily but the thematic point of the novel is elusive until a shocking late-novel development throws everything into sharp relief. The book is essentially a character study of Bardas Loredan, who believes himself to be the 'good' member of the family, a hard worker who sends money home to his younger two brothers on their farm and has always tried to do the right thing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly original "middle" volume. 18 Mar 2001
By A Customer
I usually dread middle books of fantasy trilogies. They are there because the author's publisher has told him/her that fantasy books come in threes: we usually end up spending a lot of time in landscape. Parker's trilogy is quite different; the middle book is vital and engaging; the lack of a sympathetic main character does not mean any lack of empathy and there is no actual need to have read book one.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
After reading Colours in the Steel, I went straight out and ordered the next volumes in the trilogy. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what to make of the second volume and am a little afraid of opening the third. Not wanting to give away the turnings of the plot, I will only say that the search for a sympathetic character becomes even harder in the second volume than it was in the first. I enjoy Parker's worldview, I like the technical aspects, I'm amused by the interpretation of the various professions and the introduction of business as state is entertaining to say the least - it makes for an almost tongue in cheek universe. The only problem I have is, I don't like any of the main characters anymore, perhaps it's human to have weaknesses, but I'm not sure they need to be expressed so forcefully. I will read the last volume, as I said I can't turn away, but I don't particularly care whether the characters live or die. Which is a pity, after the first book I quite liked Baradas.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Book - Until the Ending 12 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved the first book in this trilogy, though it was a little dark at times. So when this book arrived I was eager to read and (I thought) enjoy it. The plot was intriguing, the characters flawed but sympathetic. This was, however, completely destroyed by the ending of the book, which was incredibly gruesome, shocking, and, to be quite frank, unnecessary. An unbelievable ending, but for all the wrong reasons, and really sickening. Unless you have a strong stomach and are willing to shudder with revulsion every time you think about it, I suggest you avoid this book. Or, perhaps, read it up till about the last fifty or so pages.
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