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THE COMPANY by K.J. Parker

THE COMPANY

By K.J. Parker

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-316-03853-9
Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

A stand-alone military fantasy from the pseudonymous Parker (The Escapement, 2007, etc.).

Finally, a long debilitating war is over, though we never learn what the fighting was about. General Teuche Kunessin returns to Faralia to contact the other surviving members of A Company: Muri the tanner, farmer Kudei, fencing teacher Alces and store owner Aidi. During the fighting, they'd promised themselves a new life after the end of hostilities. Kunessin tells them he's acquired an entire island, Sphoe, from the military (by not entirely legal means) complete with buildings and harbor; the place is ideal for colonization. Kunessin has already bought a ship, supplies and equipment—with money embezzled, we learn later, from his fellow soldiers. After debating whether to simply buy slaves, they acquire legitimate wives and servants and set sail. However, conditions on the island aren’t quite as anticipated: most of the buildings are ruinous; worse, the army has left a garrison, and Kunessin must persuade them to quit the island. After the ship sails, taking away the garrison, to fetch more supplies, a fire destroys most of their flour and seeds. The ship won't return for months, so it's either starve or build a boat to reach the mainland. After backbreaking labor, the boat leaves. Meanwhile, in a vast and unwelcome complication, those waiting on the island discover gold in the nearby river. Interspersed with the colonial saga are passages detailing the company's war exploits, wherein we learn that one of the company is a traitor. The situation turns uglier yet.

Burly, sometimes brutal, often enlightening, but the plodding and monochromatic narrative may be a hurdle too high for the usual fantasy crowd.