You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Purple and Black

K. J. Parker's Purple and Black is an epistolary novella detailing letters between Emperor Nicephorus V and his friend Phormio, the new governor of a distant province. The title comes from the color of the text of the letters, purple being the privileged ink for imperial correspondence.

As the two men write, we learn of the new emperor's troubles with the bureaucracy and the governor's troubles with an insurgency. Phormio is a young scholar who does not know anything about governing a province but he tries his best. As the attacks from the insurgency increase Phormio requests and receives a large contingent of troops. Before long the new general gets killed in a raid, and events start to change for everybody.

This is an amusing and inventive novella. The characters shine through in their letters, and we learn about their history as well as the current situation. The events transpire in a natural way. The conflict comes through slowly but with a good bit of suspense. It is an enjoyable read. B+

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