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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Existential fantasy
KJ Parker is a favorite - a terrific author proving that proper fantasy is about characters and themes, and not merely elaborate world-building.

Parker combines gritty philosophy with extraordinarily well-developed characters to create disturbing, existential stories. Amongst other things, Parker is also a proper horror writer - eschewing cheap, graphic reveals...
Published on 12 April 2010 by Amazon Customer

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars worthy but hard slog
This is a Fantasy novel in very little but name. Yes it is not set in out `world' but this is about a group of individuals and is more about hidden secrets and relationships.
A group of retired elite soldiers decide to move to an Island (with new wives and some `workers') to set up a new life and society. What initially seems a good idea starts to come unstuck as...
Published on 27 Jan 2009 by Nick Brett


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars worthy but hard slog, 27 Jan 2009
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Company (Paperback)
This is a Fantasy novel in very little but name. Yes it is not set in out `world' but this is about a group of individuals and is more about hidden secrets and relationships.
A group of retired elite soldiers decide to move to an Island (with new wives and some `workers') to set up a new life and society. What initially seems a good idea starts to come unstuck as gold is discovered on the island and past secrets start to catch up with them.
In essence the author takes the scenario of a group who were tight knit during a war, but then puts them in a different situation. Suddenly people on whom your life used to depend are seen in a different light...
I was looking forward to this, the premise and characters looked interesting, but in the end I found it a struggle, often picking up something else instead. I feel bad about that because this is a worthy and well written book but it just didn't grab me and the motivations of some of the characters were not overly clear and it became hard to engage with them. So, three stars. Just.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Existential fantasy, 12 April 2010
This review is from: The Company (Paperback)
KJ Parker is a favorite - a terrific author proving that proper fantasy is about characters and themes, and not merely elaborate world-building.

Parker combines gritty philosophy with extraordinarily well-developed characters to create disturbing, existential stories. Amongst other things, Parker is also a proper horror writer - eschewing cheap, graphic reveals and instead building unbearably tense situations 'off-camera'.

Whomever he or she is, Parker is a hell of a writer.

Happily, The Company, newly released in the UK, is up to Parker's standard level of brilliance.

The Company is a tightly-plotted thriller about a handful of ex-army men trying to found their own escapist, Utopian paradise. Think J.G. Ballard crossed with Joe Abercrombie - extraordinarily flawed and angry men trying to build a perfect world (for them).

The existentialist connections go much further than Ballard as well. The veterans are forced to confront Kafkaesque bureaucracy, Camusian internal struggles and, eventually, the discovery that, as Sartre put it, "hell is other people".

Literary name-dropping aside, there's something pleasantly surprisingly about a book about fantasy warriors that features neither fantasy nor warfare. The Company is about the lingering effects of war - physical, mental and moral. This book could easily have been set in the present day, but by abstracting it from the 'real world', Parker has made it more about the people than the politics. The reader has connection with the war that these soldiers fought - instead, we're forced to draw our own conclusions, shed our prejudice and treat them like real people. An impressive task for a "fantasy" novel.

The Company is a beautiful, sad, difficult novel - and one that shows the full value of fantasy when it comes to exploring difficult themes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, witty but ultimately unrewarding, 10 Jan 2010
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Company (Paperback)
There's much to love about the way The Company is written, and a couple of the characters are well-rounded, interesting people. The descriptive scenes of battle are probably the high points -- for although this novel is set in the peaceful years after the war has ended, much of the plot revolves around the events of the war itself and the way it bound the men of A-Company together. The central theme is that this band of brothers have been betrayed (perhaps more than once), and the guilty party will be revealed by the end of the book...

The Company is set in a fictional land with fictional nations fighting medieval warcraft. Apart from that, there is little to mark this out as a 'fantsay' novel. It almost belongs in the 'historical fiction' section.
Although the initial chapters are pacy and interesting, dealing with the reunion of the soldiers long after the war, once it settles down things bcome much slower and ponderous. The middle section of the book wasa real slog for me and, unfortunately, I felt very let down by the ending once I eventually reached it. Two or three of the main characters are extremely well fleshed out but many of the others, who should be just as important, remain indistinguishable from each other. None of them were particularly engaging or charismatic: none really grabbed my attention. Similarly, the ongoing series of domestic mishaps made for poor interludes compared to the interesting bits set back in the war.

So after reading this I probably wouldn't want to pick up another novel by this author. It wasn't bad -- just not rewarding for the amount of effort it took to complete.
7/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracker, 31 Aug 2009
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Company (Paperback)
If you haven't heard of KJ Parker, then you've missed a treat. After all the Engineer Trilogy has been vastly popular with the fans and whils some would say it was long winded, it's been one that's gripped a new generation with a passion.

Here in KJ's latest release is something of a nvoelty as its a standalong which examines what happens to soldiers after a long and bloody war and what they do to acclimatise themselves back into society. Well written, with a spartan descriptive style that allows for a greater realism with a band of misfits who only seem at ease with each other which allows for a tale tha generates an adventure for all who read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the Engineer or Fencer Trilogy, 23 Mar 2010
By 
J. P. B. Webster (Hong Kong) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Company (Paperback)
I was a huge fan of Devices and Desires when it came out. The combination of wit, murky real politik, solid engineering detail and the downright English Gentleman politeness and sense of necessary duty of many of the characters was a breath of fresh air. I had never read anything quite like it. The rest of the trilogy didn't disappoint, I was genuinely shocked at one part of the ending, and I moved on happily to the Fencer Trilogy, which was an obvious predecessor, and showed how Parkers style has evolved.

So, I was looking forward to The Company, but didn't expect anything startlingly different, and indeed, it is more of the same, but frankly, not as good. Of course, your mileage may vary, but I have some ideas as to why I personally didn't enjoy it too much.

The characters, apart from the protaganist, were largely interchangeable. Their names didnt help at all, with the exception of "Fly", I found it difficult to distinguish between them and remember (or care!) who was who. The same for the wives. This wasn't an issue for previous Parker books, which also had a series of semi-Italian/Fantasy names for the characters, so I am not quite sure why it was a problem here. But in many cases, I really didn't have a feel as to who was who.

The story simply left too much unsaid. I am no fan of having everything spelled out, but there is a balance, which previous books got right, and this didn't. I was just a little unsure of the motivations, and not really clear why they were so tightly knit and would follow their leader through any situation. Exactly what did he do that made them so loyal? It felt almost as if there were sections that were left out, perhaps battle descriptions that would have made things clearer were cut for space reasons?

Finally, the style is starting to get a little samey. As mentioned earlier, many of the characters are perfectly polite as they explain exactly why they have to do this rather unpleasant thing to someone, there really is nothing personal in it, and you will see its all for your own good etc. This matter-of-fact discussion of some quite horrific situations and events has now become a Parker staple, and whilst I enjoyed it at first, it grates a little now, because almost everybody seems to behave in this same way.

I did enjoy the ending, but felt overall a little unsatisfied. The next book sounds more familiar, back to Dukes and Princes exchanging letters, no doubt discussing exactly why they had to execute that Countess, really no way round it, terrible shame and all that, for the good of the realm, don't you know... But I will still probably read it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Ideally a short story, 12 Feb 2010
By 
SonicQuack (Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Company (Paperback)
The Company is a simple tale, best presented as a short story rather than a drawn out novel. The premise is simple enough, the start of a new colony and the political and social troubles that might be expected. However, the frequent telling of the characters back-story actually is a long winded way of explaining how the relationships between the main characters were forged. Ultimately, although most of the book centres upon the five ex-soldiers who are establishing the new village, there is little emotional tie to them. When the inevitable issues begin to take root in their Company it is easy to feel less than concerned, for most of the characters are flawed, with little reason to offer compassion. It's a straightforward story, easy enough to read and digest. The fantasy setting is irrelevant, for this is a character piece, albeit not engaging enough to stand out.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A difficult work from a favourite author, 14 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Company (Kindle Edition)
I have no earthly idea how I am supposed to put my thoughts about this book into words.

On the one hand, it's K J Parker, full of the expected black humour, sudden character death, canny characterisation and well told doing of minutia in a medieval fantasy setting. The plot follows five war veterans who, unable to really integrate back into society, leave in order to colonise a former military base on the island far from home. But in building a new life, old secrets are unearthed and flour goes boom. I think. There's also a clutch of wives, one of them poisonous, and some military bureaucracy about the ownership of the island, ore strikes... etc etc.

A lot goes on, but not a lot really happens. It flirts with being about the creating of a colony for a hundred pages before dropping the idea, spends a hundred pages on the conflict between A company and the servants before spending another on the military involvement on the island. It never settles long enough to grow roots. It has the air of a literary novel, but doesn't really drive to any point (outside the last chapter or so) and while I enjoyed the book from moment to moment it never hung together as a whole.

So what you're left with is a well written but also strangely flat book by one of my favourite authors. A book on the edge of greatness at times but is consistently frustrating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another brilliant K.J. Parker-novel, 29 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Company (Hardcover)
This might be just the book to convince your friends who say they do not read fantasy novels since it has no magic, dragons, elves, hobbits, monsters etc. "Just" a story about people who experienced war in all its gruesome detail and are now trying to adjust to civilian life afterwards. Highest recommendation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Many lost hours, 17 Aug 2011
This review is from: The Company (Paperback)
I find KJ Parker is an author who consistently turns out a good read. I want to be entertained as well as having the brain exercised. KJP really writes a good battle.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Twisted and entertaining., 14 Jun 2011
By 
plot hound (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Company (Paperback)
This is unusually straight-forward for Parker, it doesn't have his normal enormously complicated plots and intricate manoeuvring.

The Company have never truly settled down after the war and decide to have a fresh start.

Kunessin is the main character an the most complex, he is given plenty of back story showing how his personality became what it did and giving us a good idea of what drives him.
The other characters are likeable enough although Muri's position as doormat is a bit annoying but all quite believable.

The characters of the wives are more 2 dimensional but still fleshed out quite well.

The political manipulation used to get the island is well done as is the run of good and bad luck that keeps messing up Kunessin's plans.

There is some humour in the book but not much.
Parker isn't reluctant to have people suffer and die.

And although the big reveal isn't intended to be a surprise it does cause some twists.

A solid and enjoyable read.
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The Company
The Company by K. J. Parker (Paperback - 3 Sep 2009)
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