Tom Holt

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Tom Holt
Born (1961-09-13) 13 September 1961 (age 60)
Pen nameK. J. Parker
GenreHumorous fantasy, historical fiction

Thomas Charles Louis Holt (born 13 September 1961) is a British novelist. In addition to fiction published under his own name, he writes fantasy under the pseudonym K. J. Parker.[1]


Holt was born in London, the son of novelist Hazel Holt,[2] and was educated at Westminster School, Wadham College, Oxford,[3] and The College of Law, London.

His works include mythopoeic novels which parody or take as their theme various aspects of mythology, history or literature and develop them in new and often humorous ways. He has also written a number of historical novels writing as Thomas Holt. Steve Nallon collaborated with Holt to write I, Margaret, a satirical autobiography of Margaret Thatcher published in 1989.

K. J. Parker[edit]

K. J. Parker is the pseudonym under which Holt has published fantasy fiction. Parker's identity as Holt was kept secret for 17 years, until April 2015.[4][5]

While Parker's stories take place in secondary worlds with fictional geographies and world history, some of the typical features of fantasy fiction such as explicit use of magic are not present in his novels. His short stories, on the other hand, frequently deal with magic and the problems it brings for sorcerers. 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.

Bibliography of Tom Holt[edit]

The list that follows is complete according to the list of books in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages, published 2012.


Humorous fantasy[edit]

  • Expecting Someone Taller (1987), based on the mythology of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.
  • Who's Afraid of Beowulf? (1988), based on Norse mythology and history.
  • Flying Dutch (1991), based on the story of the Flying Dutchman.
  • Ye Gods! (1992), based on elements of Greek mythology including a parody of Heracles.[6]
  • Overtime (1993), based on the legend of Blondel combined with time travel.
  • Here Comes the Sun (1993), based loosely on the Celestial Bureaucracy reinterpreted along the lines of the British civil service.
  • Grailblazers (1994), based on Arthurian romance and the quest for the Holy Grail.
  • Faust Among Equals (1994), an imagined continuation of the story of Faust.
  • Odds & Gods (1995), which features assorted pantheons and their adventures after "retirement".
  • Djinn Rummy (1995), based on the antics of various bottle-trapped djinn along the lines of a modern Aladdin.
  • My Hero (1996), in which literary characters can move between fiction and the real world. One of the main characters is Hamlet.
  • Paint Your Dragon (1996), based on the adventures of statues carved to portray the legend of St George slaying the dragon.
  • Open Sesame (1997), based on characters from the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
  • Wish You Were Here (1998), in which a lake spirit grants four people their heart's desire whether they like it or not.
  • Only Human (1999), in which four human souls are switched respectively with a machine, a painting, a lemming and a demon.
  • Snow White and the Seven Samurai (1999), based on fairy tales (Brothers Grimm and others) making a world within a computer simulation.
  • Valhalla (2000), based on ideas from Norse mythology and the notion of tailoring an afterlife to suit the client.
  • Nothing But Blue Skies (2001), which features Chinese dragons which cause rain, and the problems caused when one of them falls in love with a human.
  • Falling Sideways (2002), which features human cloning and interference from a race of powerful alien frogs.
  • Little People (2002), in which a boy sees elves, and discovers they are being shrunk, imprisoned and enslaved.
  • Featuring J.W. Wells & Co., the magic firm from The Sorcerer by Gilbert & Sullivan:
    • The Portable Door (2003), which features office politics with a magical twist.
    • In Your Dreams (2004), in which the Fey use people's dreams to try to invade the world of humans.
    • Earth, Air, Fire, and Custard (2005).
    • You Don't Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But It Helps (2006).
    • The Better Mousetrap (2008).
    • May Contain Traces of Magic (2009), where a JWW travelling salesman breaks the rules and converses with his car's demonical navigation system.
    • Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages (2011), subtitled A Comedy of Transdimensional Tomfoolery, with a genius pig, human chickens, and reality misfunctions.
  • Barking (2007), based on vampires and werewolves transposed into modern day legal firms.
  • Blonde Bombshell (2010), an alien canine race is trying to destroy Earth.
  • Featuring YouSpace, a multiverse-based entertainment system, with doughnuts as portals:
    • Doughnut (2013), a disgraced physicist is bequeathed a very strange legacy.
    • When It's a Jar (2013), an ordinary fellow becomes a reluctant hero.
    • The Outsorcerer's Apprentice (2014), a fairy tale universe is exploited economically.
    • The Good, the Bad and the Smug (2015), Rumplestiltskin-based economies and Evil goes for a new, more appealing look.
    • An Orc on the Wild Side (2019)
  • The Management Style of the Supreme Beings (2017), God and his oldest son Jay sell Earth to the Venturi brothers, leaving behind younger son Kevin, all the archangels, and Santa Claus.


Using Thomas Holt as author name.

  • The Walled Orchard (1997), which was originally published in two parts as Goatsong (1989) and The Walled Orchard (1990)
  • Alexander at the World's End (1999)
  • Olympiad (2000)
  • A Song for Nero (2003)
  • Meadowland (2005)


  • Poems by Tom Holt (1974) (Collection of early poems)
  • continuations of E. F. Benson's "Lucia" series set in Tilling
    • Lucia in Wartime (1985) fiction
    • Lucia Triumphant (1986) fiction
  • I, Margaret (1989) (satirical biography of Margaret Thatcher, with Steve Nallon)
  • Bitter lemmings (1997) (Songbook)
  • Holt Who Goes There? (2002) (short stories)
  • Someone Like Me (2006).

Short fiction[edit]

  • "They'd like to come and meet us, but they're only CGI". Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. 45: 77–100. 2010.

Parodies of musical works[edit]

Bibliography of K. J. Parker[edit]


The Fencer trilogy[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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)


  • Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City (9 April 2019)
  • How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It (18 August 2020)
  • A Practical Guide to Conquering the World (11 January 2022)

Other novels[edit]

  • The Company (2 October 2008)
  • The Folding Knife (22 February 2010)
  • The Hammer (5 January 2011)
  • Sharps (5 July 2012)
  • The Two of Swords (April 2015), serialised e-book. Published in 2017 in three volumes:
    • Volume 1 Collects #1-8 (17 October 2017)
    • Volume 2 collects #9-15 (14 November 2017)
    • Volume 3 collects #16-19 (12 December 2017)
  • Savages (31 July 2015)
  • The Long Game (March 2022)

Short fiction[edit]


  • Purple and Black. Subterranean Press. July 2009. Novella. Collected in Academic Exercises.
  • Blue and Gold. Subterranean Press. December 2010. Novella. Collected in Academic Exercises.
  • The Last Witness (6 October 2015) Novella. Collected in The Father of Lies.
  • Downfall of the Gods. Subterranean Press. April 2016. Novella. Collected in The Father of Lies.
  • The Devil You Know (1 March 2016) Novella. Collected in The Father of Lies.
  • Mightier than the Sword. Subterranean Press. (30 May 2017).
  • My Beautiful Life. Subterranean Press. (30 November 2019).
  • Prosper's Demon. (28 January 2020).
  • The Big Score. Subterranean Press. (31 March 2021).
  • Inside Man. (15 June 2021).


  • "The Best Man Wins". The Book of Swords. (10 October 2017) Novelette
  • "The Thought That Counts". Beneath Ceaseless Skies (250). April 2018. Novelette
  • "Portrait of the Artist". Beneath Ceaseless Skies (287). September 2019. Novelette

Short Stories[edit]

  • "A Rich Full Week". Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery. June 2010. Edited by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders. Collected in Academic Exercises.
  • "A Room with a View". Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2. April 2011. Edited by William Schafer. Collected in Academic Exercises.
  • "One Little Room an Everywhere". Eclipse Online. October 2012. Collected in Academic Exercises.
  • "The Dragonslayer of Merebarton". Fearsome Journeys. May 2013. Edited by Jonathan Strahan. Collected in The Father of Lies.
  • "I Met a Man Who Wasn't There". Subterranean Online. January 2014. Collected in The Father of Lies.
  • "The Things We Do For Love". Subterranean Online. Summer 2014. Collected in The Father of Lies.
  • "Heaven Thunders The Truth". Beneath Ceaseless Skies (157). October 2014. Collected in The Father of Lies.
  • "Safe House". Fearsome Magics. October 2014. edited by Jonathan Strahan. Collected in The Father of Lies.
  • "Told by an Idiot". (4 February 2016). Collected in The Father of Lies.
  • "Priest's Hole". Five Stories High. 1 December 2016.
  • "Message in a Bottle" (14 March 2017). Collected in The Father of Lies.
  • "Rules". The Father of Lies. (31 January 2018).
  • "The Return of the Pig". The Book of Magic. (16 October 2018)



Short essays[edit]

  • "On Sieges". Subterranean Online. Summer 2009. Collected in Academic Exercises.
  • "Cutting Edge Technology: The Life and Sad Times of the Western Sword". Subterranean Online. Fall 2011. Collected in Academic Exercises.
  • "Rich Men's Skins: A Social History of Armour". Subterranean Online. Summer 2013. Collected in Academic Exercises.


  1. ^ Jared Shurin (21 April 2015). "Interview: "Hello, My Name is K.J. Parker"". Pornokitsch.
  2. ^ "Hazel Holt". Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Review: The Portable Door", The Guardian, 29 March 2003. Accessed 3 December 2015
  4. ^ Jared Shurin (21 April 2015). "Interview: "Hello, My Name is K.J. Parker"".
  5. ^ "The Two of Swords launches (and the real K. J. Parker stands up!)". 21 April 2015.
  6. ^ Review, Publishers Weekly. Accessed 3 December 2015
  7. ^ "KJ Parker – Announcing The Father of Lies by K. J. Parker".

Free short stories online[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ "Awards". World Fantasy. Archived from the original on 27 October 2012.