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Devices And Desires: The Engineer Trilogy: Book One Paperback – 7 Apr 2005

3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (7 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841492752
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841492759
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,905,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for Shadow: 'Utterly compelling' THE ALIEN ONLINE 'This is exactly what the fantasy genre needs ... an assured, intelligent first chapter' SFX. Praise for the Fencer Trilogy: 'From the first page, it has style, humour and pace all its own, and develops rapidly into one of the most entertaining fantasy debuts in recent years ... Refreshing, fun, thoughtful, different, absorbing' SFX 'Action-packed adventure' STARBURST on THE BELLY OF THE BOW

Book Description

The acclaimed author of The Fencer Trilogy and The Scavenger Trilogy begins a brilliant new series, pushing the boundaries of fantasy fiction with his most powerful novel to date.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As an fond science fiction / fantasy reader, I enjoyed this book immensely (I should add this is my first K J Parker novel, so I may not have sufficient experience to notice the formulaic nature mentioned by those who have read all the author's works). Parker manages the traditional problem found in such works rather well, this being the difficult task of fleshing out the new world created and explaining all the little details necessary to fully understand the plot, without simultaneously slowing the plot to a crawl in order to make room for the potted histories and observations - on those occasions where there is significant slowdown, the supplementary information is always interesting enough for this not to cause annoyance. The book is a satisfying length but sufficiently engrossing overall not to feel over-long. I also found a good balance between personal character interactions and observations on the larger interactions between whole societies, so that the reader finds himself empathising equally well with individual protagonists (on all sides), and with the political clashing of the various factions. There are no cardboard cut-out villains or heroes to be found here. Some characters can perhaps seem rather single-minded sometimes, but one must remember the nature of most of the cultures described - a non-technological society has comparatively little real need for lateral thinking or creativity, so tradition holds more sway and keeps things running the same way time and again, and for the reasons explained in the text the society of the engineers is also held rigid by tradition.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
OK so it's the same K J Parker doing much the same sort of thing, but boy is he good at it. In the scavenger trilogy there was a master plan, but noone beleived it was there and we weren't privy to it, here you can see it all panning out as it goes along but still get left wondering what the hell will happen next.
What make Parker's writing different and such an amazingly fun read is the cynical commentry from the characters on how ridiculous life, war and politics are. This make it very easy to identify with all the main character because they realise that life is a joke, a truly rare thing in fantasy.
So prepare to laugh and prepare to think because K J Parker is like noone you've ever read before. And if you think that it's much the same as the first two trilogies, then consider how similar all the rest of fantasy is and you may find that there is still plenty of room for Parker to explore before this library of intelligent farces gets boring!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I agree with the comments by London below although its probably worth more than 1 star. I got 34% in before I gave up which is better than usual for fantasy - which I like in theory but frequently find disappointing in practice. I agree there is a lot of pointless dialogue which drives neither plot nor reveals anything about the characters which are rather shallow. The dialogue and relationships are so casual as to be unbelievable i.e. dukes speak to flunkies as if they are beer buddies rather than subordinates. I know its fantasy but even so.
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Format: Paperback
Not sure where I heard of this first book in the "Engineer Trilogy" or what about it compelled me to try it out, but I'm very glad I did. First things first though: the book is marketed and billed as fantasy, but I'm not really sure why. It's set in a medieval-style world, but there's no magic, everyone's human, and other than wacky character names, there are really no fantasy genre elements at all.

Instead, the book is crammed with realistic (or at least realistic sounding) details about swordsmanship, hunting, and most of all, manufacturing. Perhaps most interesting of all, there are no clear cut heroes and villains -- instead, there are characters acting according to their natures and interests, which may drive them to desperate (possibly even heroic) acts. The story takes place within three neighboring nations, two relatively small city-state/Duchies who've had on-again, off-again wars over the years, and their technologically advanced mercantile trading partner Mezentia. The latter is run by a giant bureaucracy, and the state runs on principles of efficiency, rationality, and clear standards. When a foreman of one of the ordnance factories transgresses the standards in his private life, this proves to be the butterfly wings flapping that lead to war hundreds of miles away.

This engineer has been sentenced to death but manages against all odds to escape and find himself in a situation where he might just be able to engineer a reunion with his family. Indeed, the plot is very carefully engineered and reads like a complex 3D puzzle that's being slowly solved, chapter by chapter. In some senses it's a very cold and mechanical book, even as the author tries to build up the humanity of the other main protagonists (the leaders of the two Duchies).
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Format: Paperback
OK - anyone who's read the Fencer or Shadow books will immediately feel at home here. KJ Parker lays out the different factions deftly and sets up the protagonists in her usual style; her characterisation might be heavy-handed and formulaic, but at least it is to her own formula!!!
Whereas I might wish she wouldn't semaphore the different characteristics quite so plainly (the engineer, who can turn everything (and one) into a device; the Duke who can apply the rules of hunting to deal with problems etc etc)I do like her creations so my grumbling is subdued.
The story rattles along and has enough action to make you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. I really felt for some of those poor mercenaries!
I predict like the two previous trilogies it will be "two books stretched out to three" for marketing reasons but will still be a MUST HAVE for the intelligent fantasy reader. Enjoy!
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