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.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Evil for Evil

Evil for Evil is K. J. Parker's sequel to Devices and Desires. Duke Orsea, who has lost his duchy, is living with his wife under the refuge of his rival Duke Valens. The duchess, Veatriz, maintains an uneasy relationship with him and Valens, with whom she exchanged letters for years. Veatriz and Valens waver between acknowledging their attraction and pushing each other away.

Valens has to concentrate on the war with the Mezentines. After rescuing Veatriz and Orsea, the Mezentines are waging war in vengeance and to kill the defector Vaatzes. Valens decides that since his city is no match for the Mezentines and their mercenaries and their war engines, the best option is to evacuate the city and scuttle the silver mines. He consults with Vaatzes who comes up with a plan to collapse the first hundred feet of the mines to fool the Mezentines into believing they are totally ruined.

Lucao Psellus, the clerk in the empire who got the war started and became part of Necessary Evil, has been tasked with discovering more about Vaatzes crime. He is also sent to meet with Vaatzes to make a deal with him to betray the Vadani like he betrayed the Eremians. Of course the Mezentines have no intention of keeping any promise they make him.

Meanwhile Miel Ducas, the disfavored Eremian lord, is leading the Eremian resistance against the Mezentines but is picked up by scavengers after a battle. He manages to escape before being turned over, and makes his way to an old estate of his where a man and his daughter are working on the formula for a particular color of glaze to be able to sell Mezentine style pottery.

At the center of the plot (and plotting) is Ziana Vaatzes, who continues to connive to get vengeance against his former country. This volume starts to go in a different different direction, changing expectations quickly. The wild card is a man named Daurenja, who is Vaatzes' equal and nemesis. He sees through the defector's machinations and sets in motion plans of his own. The two go from being wary allies to being bitter rivals, yet they both need each other.

I was pleased to encounter unexpected twists in the book, on top of the unexpected twists in the first volume. Vaatzes continues to be the main driver of the plot, even as events start to overtake him and acquire a life of their own. The metaphor of Vaatzes' plot being a well calibrated and designed machine is expanded. All the characters continue to develop. The nature of the relationships keeps changing as the plot thickens. I was a little concerned in the first half of the book when the plot seemed to get bogged down and characters seemed to be in stasis with little interesting events. But then a surprise attack comes out of nowhere things get very interesting. It's a good example of the twists that happen in the book. For a middle volume, it manages to keep interest. B+

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