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Blue and Gold by K. J. Parker

Blue and Gold (2010)

by K. J. Parker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Saloninus (1)

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906200,712 (3.75)2



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“The two predominant factors that make me up, philosophy and criminality, when combined, when combined together on the block of ice hat serves me for a personality go to make up alchemy.”

In “Blue and Gold” by K. J. Parker


Beep… -cking answering machines! Kevin… Kevin… Kevin, I know you’re there. With her probably, whoever she is – stupid cow. Listen Kevin, you actually love me really. You’re jus’ confuuuused, and I don’t blame you. But you better not do anything you’ll regret – and if you’re doing it now I will hunt you down and… and cut your goolies off… You see the thing is… the thing is… God, iss really ridiculous communicating like this. We’re human beings. Why don'sh you just pick up the phone and we’ll talk like grown-up adults. Hmm? Hmm KEVIN, PICK UP THE BLOODY PHO… Beep.


“Do you remember a bar where we met? It was one of those bars like you used to see in The Sweeney. Only that was London in the 70s. All fag-ends, strippers and sticky carpet. Lively. This place looked the same, but the mood was different. Unemployed gas fitters at the bar snacked on scampi fries and planned what they would do when they won the lottery when you tried successfully to hit on me. I still remember what you said, “Great big tits, like.” “And a nice little flat for yer gran.” We laughed into our pints of bitter and gave the barmaid an unrequited smile. Even then it wasn’t our boozer any more. Too much had changed. Or stayed the same.”


“Do you remember that one time, 1 a.m. Saturday night? In the bar next door, raging hormones were laying the groundwork for love stories that might last forever. But in the sweet shop all was quiet - just the odd rustle of the newspaper on his endless vigil. He works the graveyard shift. Alone. Sweets, fancy chocolate, bouquets of bad flowers, greeting cards, fruit. Everything is like something you would bring someone in hospital. But he himself looked like he’d never want to visit a hospital ever again. Sagging skin, ashen pallor, wrinkles like lines in a song. A blues number, ‘My baby done gone.’ Remember??”


She perched on the cold, hard edge, taut fingers gripping. It had to end. No more waiting, no more hurting, no more shame and pain and hoping in vain.
She dared to glance down. A pink line for positive. The End. And the beginning.

“Shit. It’s her again…Not even in the toilette does she leave me alone”. As he said this, the brown monster leapt from the cave into the waters below with a deafening splash. He had done a big poo.

NB: I just wanted to write something like an unreliable narrator the way K. J. Parker did. What is true, what is false? “Meloves” liars in fiction… ( )
  antao | Apr 14, 2017 |
Decently written but ultimately rather forgettable piece of historical fantasy. An alchemist/philosopher on the lam makes alchemical discoveries while escaping from the authorities - several times. A little too obviously snarky for my tastes although there are some humorous moments.

This might be a good read for some people but... not really my cup of tea, unfortunately. ( )
  ScoLgo | Feb 23, 2017 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Talk about unreliable narrators! If you like that technique, you’re sure to enjoy K.J. Parker’s Blue and Gold. It’s a fast, intense, and dramatic little book that will entertain you for an afternoon.

Saloninus is probably the cleverest alchemist who ever lived (or is he?). After publishing several important (?) papers and losing his tuition money, he drops out of the university and begins a life of crime, then gets commissioned by the prince to figure out how to do two things: 1. Produce the elixir of eternal youth and 2. Turn base metal into gold. During the process, though, he accidentally (?) poisons his beautiful and brilliant wife, so now he’s on the run and he’s pretty stressed-out.

Blue and Gold’s plot is told in a series of scenes that take place in the present and past as Saloninus gradually fills in more and more detail and occasionally corrects his previous misstatements. His scientific, yet unethical (perhaps even sociopathic), voice is fascinating. He doesn’t let us in on some important facts, and every time he adjusts the story we get a fresh — but not necessarily more accurate — perspective. It’s hard to know whether we’re supposed to be for or against Saloninus; all we know is that we can’t trust him. How can you trust someone who knowingly publishes scholarly papers based on faulty logic? And who won’t tell you who he is or what his goals and purposes are? It’s good that this novella is short, because this might not work in a longer story. Fortunately, Saloninus comes clean in the end, so you needn’t worry about an ambiguous conclusion.

I enjoyed the setting of Blue and Gold. It’s that cozy academic scene that I love: writing theses, studying, attending lectures, consulting advisers, gaining life-long friends. I’ve washed plenty of beakers, weighed my share of powdery chemicals, and sat at numerous lab benches. It felt so real here. I don’t know who K.J. Parker is, but (s)he knows what (s)he’s talking about. Throughout Blue and Gold, the science of alchemy is used as a metaphor for the passage of time, spending money, rising and declining social status, personality development, falling in love, and death.

Blue and Gold is a fast-paced, gripping, excellently written story, which will be especially enjoyed by those who appreciate unreliable narrators and who feel nostalgic about academic settings. ( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |

Characters: Done well.. for a short story.

Plot: Good development pace and intelligent.

Style: Medieval ocean's 11. ( )
  Isamoor | Mar 18, 2013 |
Written in the style of an autobiography, KJ Parker delivers an enticing short novel; I will definitely check out more of her books, especially the engineer trilogy

http://www.weberseite.at/buecher/blue-and-gold-k-j-parker/ ( )
  cwebb | Dec 13, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
K. J. Parkerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chong, VincentIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A short novel combining fictional autobiography with political intrigue. History rewrites itself at every turn in this tale of an alchemist whose own base metal becomes pure gold.

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