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The Belly Of The Bow: Fencer Vol 2 (Fencer Trilogy) Paperback – 23 Mar 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (23 Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857239601
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857239607
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 3.3 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 112,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

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

Review

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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3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hodgelett on 13 April 2008
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
I began reading K J Parker with the pretty much superior in every way possible Engineer Trilogy and only started to dip into the back catalogue when there was nothing new to get hold of, and the Fencer Trilogy and The Belly of the Bow makes me very much wish I had not done so. Where the first volume was pretty turgid in terms of the plot and characters, with long and often overdone passages of techincal spiel on either siegecraft or the confused notion of "The Principle", the second is even without the logical structure of the first.

My assumption is that the Loredan family are supposed to be a lineage of sociopaths who are presented in an effort to cut against the tradition of heroes and villains in fantasy literature, but unfotunately Parker was not good enough at the art of characterisation when these books were written to make them come across as anything other than a collection of unpleasant bullies, exploiters and even feckless goons at different stages in the narrative. After having spent the entirety of the first volume being shown Bardas as the unwilling voice of reason and his siblings Gorgas and Niessa as the manipulative swines behind so much human suffering, what I suppose is meant as the twist at the end of the book comes as a surprise akin to a lump in a vital organ rather than as a moment of revelation.

Not wanting to drop spoilers, but at the same time thinking that the supposed climax might simply be too much for some readers, I will say that there seems to be little logic or motivation onto which one can sieze to explain what Bardas Loredan apparently chooses to do of his own free will at the end of this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Sept. 2000
Format: Paperback
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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