A Practical Guide to Conquering the World

By K. J. Parker • Published January 11, 2022

A dark comedy, from the author of the critically acclaimed Siege Trilogy, about the intended and unintended consequences of getting what you want.

Parker’s standalone sequel to Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City (2019) and How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It (2020) is the “true” history of Aemilius Felix Boioannes the younger, a skilled translator who accidentally-sort-of-on-purpose topples an empire and sparks a new religion.

When the story begins, the twenty-three-year-old expat has been serving the Echmen empire for three years—ever since his countrymen, the bloodthirsty Robur, effectively exiled him. Though he pretends to hate the Robur for what they did to him, he’s devastated to learn that the Echmen have wiped them out, essentially making him a stateless nonentity behind enemy lines. Fearing for his safety, he accepts the grudging protection of the Hus ambassador, who hates his guts but owes him a favor for saving his royal niece’s life. With little to do, Felix spends most of his time in the Echmen Imperial library, where he forges an unlikely alliance with the princess that furthers his plan to avenge the Robur. Though nobody’s pawn, She Who Must Not Be Named (whose real name is She Stamps Them Flat) agrees to lead her people out of slavery and join forces with the nomadic Dejauzi, whose cultural similarities with the Hus have made them enemies for as long as either tribe cares to remember. After Felix convinces his naysayers that he acts and speaks for the Queen of Heaven, he arms his forces with Robur bows, defeats the Echmen calvary with a herd of camels, and learns firsthand that a prophet is never honored in his own country. He subsequently retires to a monastery founded by disciples of his fabricated religion and returns to his first love: books. Not bad for a small-town boy from Ennea Crounoe.

The third and final installment of K. J. Parker’s award-winning fantasy series slays with deadpan wit and modern relevance. Fans of mythopoeia with a modern vibe will particularly appreciate the origin stories that Parker has created for many popular references.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


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