K. J. Parker
K. J. Parker is an author of fantasy fiction. The name is a pseudonym and the writer's true identity has never been revealed.
While Parker's stories take place in alternate universes with invented geographies and histories, some of the typical features of fantasy fiction such as explicit use of magic are not present. The stories tend to have tragic themes with characters whose actions are unintentionally, ultimately self-destructive. Other major themes in the books are politics, technology (especially disruptive innovation), and either or both of the former as a means to power.
According to the biographical notes in some of Parker's books, Parker has previously worked in law, journalism, and numismatics, and now writes and makes things out of wood and metal. It is also claimed that Parker is married to a solicitor and now lives in southern England. According to an autobiographical note, Parker was raised in rural Vermont, a lifestyle which influenced Parker's work.
Parker is known to have a connection with the author Tom Holt; in a 2010 interview with Parker, Holt mentioned that they had known each other for some years, and Parker had shown Holt his or her first novel, which he then showed to his agent who sold it.
The Fencer trilogy
The Fencer trilogy follows Bardas Loredan, a fencer-at-law.
- Colours in the Steel (1998)
- The Belly of the Bow (1999)
- The Proof House (2000)
The Scavenger trilogy
The Scavenger trilogy is about a man, or possibly god, who wakes up on a battlefield with amnesia and discovers that he is being hunted by enemies he no longer remembers.
- Shadow (2001)
- Pattern (2002)
- Memory (2003)
The Engineer trilogy
The Engineer trilogy features an engineer, Ziani Vaatzes, who is forced into exile from his home city and plots an elaborate revenge.
- Devices and Desires (2005)
- Evil for Evil (2006)
- The Escapement (2007)
- The Company (2008)
- The Folding Knife (2010)
- The Hammer (Jan 2011)
- Sharps (2012)
- Savages (2015)
- Purple and Black (July 2009, Subterranean Press)
- Amor Vincit Omnia (Summer 2010, Subterranean Online)
- A Rich Full Week (June 2010, published in Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders)
- Blue and Gold (Dec 2010, Subterranean Press)
- A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong (Winter 2011, Subterranean Online) -- Winner of the 2012 World Fantasy Award for best novella 
- A Room with a View (April 2011, published in Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2, edited by William Schafer)
- Let Maps to Others (Summer 2012, Subterranean Online)
- One Little Room an Everywhere (October 2012, Eclipse Online)
- The Dragonslayer of Merebarton (May 2013, published in Fearsome Journeys, edited by Jonathan Strahan)
- The Sun and I (Summer 2013, Subterranean Online)
- Illuminated (Summer 2013, Subterranean Online)
- Academic Exercises (2014)
- On Sieges (Summer 2009, Subterranean Online)
- Cutting Edge Technology: The Life and Sad Times of the Western Sword (Fall 2011, Subterranean Online)
- Rich Men’s Skins; A Social History of Armour (Summer 2013, Subterranean Online)
Most of Parker's novels take place on a large continent that seems to be similar to Eurasia and its nearby islands, with technology ranging from nomadic to the European Renaissance. Many of the stories revolve around technology as a means to power, in particular the manufacture of weapons; these include siege engines and small firearms like snaphance pistols (referred to explicitly as "snapping-hens").
Unlike many other fantasy fiction authors, Parker does not provide maps in the novels. However, the narratives give clues to the geography:
- There used to be a large empire that fissioned into an Eastern and a Western Empire over a thousand years ago. In Sharps it is indicated that the language of the Eastern Empire is something like Greek and that of the Western Empire something like Latin.
- Mezentia in the Engineer Trilogy was originally a colony of an empire, possibly either the Eastern or Western Empire in Sharps. Both Mezentines and Eastern Imperials are described as dark-skinned. Mezentia seems to have become independent, as it is stated that ships arriving from "home" are infrequent.
- The Aram Chantat are a loose grouping of nomadic tribes, living far beyond a desert to the south of the small kingdoms in the Engineer Trilogy but to the north of the Eastern Empire and Permia in Sharps. The actual Aram Chantat are actually only one of these tribes; there are several others such as the Rosinholet, no Vei, and Auzeil. Many of the Aram Chantat tribes are willing to work for other nations as mercenaries.
- Permia and Scheria are two small independent countries that used to be border provinces of the Eastern and Western empires respectively. There is a demilitarized zone in between.
- The colony in The Hammer is also likely an offshoot of the Eastern Empire. One of the characters sings a song referencing the Aram Rosinholet.
- Vesani Republic (The Folding Knife)
- kjparker.com – official website run by Parker's publisher
- K. J. Parker at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- K.J. Parker at Fantasy Literature
- Amor Vincit Omnia Free short story by K. J. Parker
- A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong Free short story by K. J. Parker
- Let Maps to Others Free short story by K. J. Parker
- One Little Room an Everywhere Free short story by K. J. Parker
- Parker, K. J. (1998). Colors in the Steel. The Fencer Trilogy. Orbit. p. 503. ISBN 1-85723-610-6.
- "About the contributors ...". Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 45: 102–103. (2010).
- "Interview with K. J. Parker by Tom Holt". Subterranean Press.
- "KJ Parker - Academic Exercises and Savages announced". Upcoming4.me.