Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City
April 25, 2019 6:25 AM - by K. J. Parker - Subscribe

K. J. Parker (Tom Holt)'s new novel is something of the reverse of the Engineer trilogy -- this time, we have an outcast engineer in a medieval-style world defending against a siege, making do with what he has and manipulating people as though they were gears in a machine.

16 Ways is essentially a procedural for engineers, and rides on rails from one problem to its solution to the next problem, but it's a fun little read if you like Holt's Parker-work.
posted by Etrigan (10 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm unfamiliar with this author, is this a good place to begin?
posted by gryftir at 9:30 AM on April 25, 2019

It's a standalone, and it's very much of a piece with the KJ Parker-branded works, so I'd say yes, it's a good place to begin.
posted by Etrigan at 10:25 AM on April 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Got it today after seeing it here. Not super deep, but pretty well-written and with good plotting.
posted by sixswitch at 6:20 PM on April 25, 2019

This sounds like a fun read.

By description it reminded me a little of The Martian in terms of being so purely an engineer book, but it also reminded me of the (probably fairly silly) Cross Time Engineer books by Leo Frankowski that I inhaled back in high school..
posted by fleacircus at 5:36 AM on April 27, 2019

Oh, wow, not only are the Frankowski books quite silly, they’ve aged quite poorly. The depiction and treatment of women in the series is...not good.
posted by wintermind at 7:35 AM on April 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Weirdly my mom and sister loved that series.
posted by fleacircus at 11:34 AM on April 28, 2019

I'm a few chapters in, and while watching GoT I was thinking that the main character is a lot like Tyrion except that he doesn't end every other sentence with the word 'cock'.
posted by fleacircus at 6:59 AM on April 29, 2019

Well that was a rather abrupt ending. The ol' KO'd to skip the fight.

I felt like I wanted the author there explaining the research into all the terms. Nerdily I kept thinking it felt like a GURPS sourcebook. Less nerdily, the milkface white minority angst left a bad taste.
posted by fleacircus at 3:30 PM on May 4, 2019

This was fun enough, but if I ever read another SF/F book with a very thinly veiled Rome/Byzantium, it'll be too soon. Maybe it was clever when Asimov did it in Foundation, but 1942 was a long time ago, and I think we can move on.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:50 AM on September 23, 2019

Same, but there is so little veil that it feels different.
posted by fleacircus at 12:58 AM on September 24, 2019

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