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The Company by K. J. Parker
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The Company (2008)

by K. J. Parker

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K.J. Parker writes fantasy without the dwarves, elves, dragons and other fantastical creatures that normally populate such novels. And she does it with style and panache. Parker's prose is a true pleasure to read. It flows and shines like a stream glinting in the sunlight of an August afternoon in the Deep South. Readers of fantasy are no doubt experienced at reading about great battles and of opposing soldiers in shiny armor wielding blunt and sharp weapons of war. In The Company, Parker explores what happens after the wars are over and there's no more fighting to be done. She also demonstrates rather well that while you can take the soldier out of the war, taking the war out of the soldier is an entirely other thing.

After the aforementioned wars, Gen. Teuche Kunessin returns to his home village where he rounds up his military buddies, holding them to a promise made during the war to set up their own colony apart from the government, wars, and the rest of society. Kunessin has acquired an island as part of the spoils of war and he intends to set himself, his friends and their wives upon it to do just that.

Naturally, things aren't quite so easy as that. Once the group manages to reach the island, all sorts of complications ensue, resulting from the day to day labor involved in establishing a colony, character traits and nature.

If you haven't read any of Parker's other fiction, then The Company (Orbit Books, 2009) is a great place to start. And if you have, then you should definitely add this novel to your bookcase if it isn't already there. ( )
  Steve_Coate | Apr 2, 2016 |
(Re-posted from http://theturnedbrain.blogspot.com.au/)

This book was ruined for me by an offhand comment I saw after reading it. ‘Hey,’ the comment said, ‘wouldn’t The Company have been a really awesome horror story?’

And damn it. Because, yes, The Company would have made a truly awesome horror story. Now, instead appreciating it for what it was, all I can think about is what it could have been. Which is stupidly unfair of me. It’s like going to a Chinese restaurant and then getting upset because the food isn’t French enough. It’s not like Miss Peregine’s House of Peculier children which openly promised creepy goodness and delivered nothing of the sort. At no point does The Company claim to be a horror novel, and nowhere have a seen it marketed as such.

And yet… what a horror novel it could have been!

Five guys who were close knit when they fought side beside in a war but have since drifted a part reunite with an ambitious plan to settle on an abandoned island. They hire some servants, find some wives, and set off. We get a few hints about a hurriedly and mysteriously abandoned colony, and seemed a reasonable assumption to make that whatever made the original inhabitants clear out would also come for our heroes.

Except, no. It’s just not that kind of book. The Company is a close study of the relationship between the five men, who were once closer than brothers and have now barely spoken for a decade. They have secrets (of course they have secrets, this is KJ Parker book after all), and it's not long before these secrets start to make things complicated.

Anyone who had read anything by K.J.Parker knows that characters are her strong suite. She excels at creating realistically flawed men and women who are rarely wholly good or wholly bad. And while the five men are the focus of the book, Parker also devotes a lot of attention to their wives, only one of whom was courted and married in the traditional sense. The others were acquired in much the same way as the grain, boots and other things needed for the trip. It makes for some diverse and interesting viewpoints.

But the best part about this book is learning who these men are, what they’ve done and what they mean to each over. Which makes it hard to review because most everything I could discuss is a spoiler. Plot wise not a whole lot actually happens in The Company. It’s split between the present as the men struggle to establish a liveable colony and flashbacks of the war. It was fascinating to see how the dynamics between the men have changed and what has stayed the same over the years. The slow reveal of various secrets and events added more suspense to the book than you might have expected from the thin plot, and there’s a real sense of impending doom that hangs over the whole thing. (*cough* Not unlike as in a horror novel *cough*).

I will say that given the slow build of this novel I thought the ending was way too rushed. It reminded me a bit of Stephen King in that respect, great start great middle, disappointing finish. It wasn’t enough to ruin the book for me though, and if I can ever forgive it for not being a horror novel I’m sure I’ll remember it most fondly. ( )
  MeganDawn | Jan 18, 2016 |
Fall-Winter-2010
  lencicki | Aug 28, 2013 |
Fall-Winter-2010
  orbitbooks | May 9, 2013 |
Fairly bland an uninvolving compared to the Engineer trilogy.It was OK ( )
  SChant | Apr 26, 2013 |
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Dedication
To Pete Thompson, transport officer, A Company,

Brookwood irregulars, starer-down of lions, with thanks.
First words
The boatman who rowed him from the ship to the quay kept looking at him: first a stare, then a frown.
Quotations
Other people help themselves to penknives and inkwells; if they’re feeling really daring, they might liberate a keg of nails or a few lengths of timber. You steal bits of geography.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316038520, Paperback)

Hoping for a better life, five war veterans colonize an abandoned island. They take with them everything they could possibly need - food, clothes, tools, weapons, even wives.

But an unanticipated discovery shatters their dream and replaces it with a very different one. The colonists feel sure that their friendship will keep them together. Only then do they begin to realize that they've brought with them rather more than they bargained for.

For one of them, it seems, has been hiding a terrible secret from the rest of the company. And when the truth begins to emerge, it soon becomes clear that the war is far from over.

With masterful storytelling, irresistible wit, and extraordinary insight into human nature, K.J. Parker is widely acknowledged as one of the most original and exciting fantasy writers of modern times. THE COMPANY, K.J. Parker's first stand-alone novel, is a tour de force from an author who is changing the face of the fantasy genre.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:21 -0400)

Hoping for a better life, five war veterans colonize an abandoned island. They take with them everything they could possibly need: food, clothes, tools, weapons, even wives. But an unanticipated discovery shatters their dream and replaces it with a very different one. The colonists feel sure that their friendship will keep them together. Only then do they begin to realize that they've brought with them rather more than they bargained for.… (more)

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Orbit Books

2 editions of this book were published by Orbit Books.

Editions: 0316038539, 0316038520

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