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Blue and Gold by K.J. Parker
Cover Artist: Vincent Chong
Review by Mel Jacob
Subterranean Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596063273
Date: 31 Dec 2010

Links: Author's Website / Book's page / Show Official Info /

Seldom does a book make me laugh out loud, but K.J. Parker's novella Blue and Gold did. Parker describes the adventures of Salonius, a noted philosopher and alchemist. Kept under guard by his friend prince Phocas, Salonius is also the prince's brother-in-law and has just murdered his own wife, so he says. He claims he lies about many things.

Clever and versatile, he seeks escape from Phocas' urgent demand he transmute base metal to gold. Salonius says it can't be done, but works at the prince's command. We learn his checkered past and various spectacular escapes. An agile mind and prodigious intelligence keeps him ahead of authorities.

The setting is ambiguous. The sort of Romanesque names are a play on words or phonetics and I doubt I caught all the inferences and sly digs and so leave a deep critical analysis to others. However, even without that, this novella is a fun read.

The humor is needle sharp as Parker skewers academe and those who would pervert science to their own ends. Parker has ten novels to his/her credit including the recent novella Purple and Black also published by Subterranean. This publisher produces little gems in its novella series. This one is a crowning jewel.

If you haven't discovered Parker before, you should. K.J. Parker joins the ranks of noted British authors with intelligent and biting humor including Terry Pratchett and Piers Anthony.

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