The Company by K. J. Parker: Book Review

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Cover of The Company by K. J. Parker

2 Stars

A group of comrades-in-arms have almost all gone back to live in the rural area where they came from. Some are faring better than others but they all seem to be at a loss as to what to do with themselves now that the war is over. Things change when their long-time leader, Kunessin, finally retires from the military and comes back to ask them to form a colony on an island with him, free from all care. They’ll hire some indentured servants, find some wives, and they’ll all live happily ever after. The company agrees, they set off, new wives and servants in tow, and find that life on the island is not as easy or as simple as they expected it to be.

This author was very highly recommended to me by an old friend from high school. I haven’t seen her in years but I’ve seen enough of her on Facebook to trust her recommendations. I chose this book to start with because I could easily download it from the library website rather than waiting a week or so for a physical copy of another work to transfer in to my local library. I felt a little hesitation on her part when I said I had picked this book but she didn’t actively dissuade me from reading it. She just warned me to make a list of the character names.

Good thing because I couldn’t even remember who was whom among the five main characters, much less the wives and servants. It was a losing battle from the get-go. To me, that signals a lack of good characterization. I have read books with much longer lists of characters and never even hesitated as to who they were (A Song of Ice and Fire is the immediate example. I may not remember all the minor characters but there are pages of main characters alone.) A well-developed character will jump off the page at me and lodge in my mind. The General was the only one I could consistently remember in this book.

My friend had also warned me that K. J. Parker’s books are not all happiness and sunshine. I believe she actually said something about a high body count at the end. Check. But I can live with that as long as I know how I got there. Not really the case here.

And that leads me to the plot. It meandered around and never could settle on a direction it wanted to go. It was just complication after complication and most of them arose out of nowhere. There are Big Secrets in the past that are alluded to again and again but are left maddeningly unexplored until the very end, by which time I had completely given up on everything.

I’ll try this author again (my friend really recommended Devices & Desires and The Hammer) but I can’t bring myself to recommend this book myself. Being centered around relationships developed in the military, maybe readers who can relate or who enjoy that kind of book will enjoy this more than I did.

Read an excerpt.

Buy The Company at

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

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  1. Ah well. Better luck next time. When KJ Parker is at his or her best, it's fantastic, but this is probably a better book for someone who already loves the author and is desperate for more.

    The characterization is much better in other books. Really!

    But I have a reluctant professional duty to remind you not to spend too much time on authors you're not wild about. Life's too short, etc.

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