How To Rule an Empire and Get Away with It

Orbit. Aug. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9780316498678. pap. $16.99. FANTASY
The city of Classis is under siege, but since it has been for the past seven years, none of the citizens pay much attention anymore, despite the large rocks that are periodically lobbed over the city walls. When Classis’ most beloved personage, Lysimachus, is killed by one of those rocks, the government is quick to cover it up, but now they’re faced with a problem. Lysimachus, savior of the city, can’t die. Enter Notker, playwright, actor, and self-professed liar, whose specialty is playing Lysimachus. Notker is convinced by government officials that it is in his best interest to continue his impersonation of the famed hero, albeit on a much larger stage. Notker’s greatest role will offer him fame, fortune, and the opportunity to save Classis—if it doesn’t kill him first.
VERDICT Parker’s (Sixteen Ways To Defend a Walled City) latest epic fantasy proves that all the world is, indeed, a stage, and Parker himself is a master impresario. Readers will enjoy his comedic take on how politics are comprised of equal parts lies, incompetence, and the foolishness of humanity—with just enough flashes of brilliance to save the day. Recommended for fans of Terry Pratchett and Mary Gentle’s Grunts.

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