How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It (Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City Book 2) by K. J. Parker
English | 2020 | Fantasy | ePUB | 2.4 MB
In this epic fantasy novel, an acclaimed playwright and a terrible liar might be the hope of an empire when he’s compelled to take on a role that will grant him fame, fortune, and immortality . . . if it doesn’t kill him first.
The City may be under siege, but everyone still has to make a living. Take Notker, the playwright, actor and impresario. Nobody works harder, even when he’s not working. Thankfully, the good citizens of Classis appreciate an evening at the theatre even when there are large rocks falling out of the sky.
But Notker is a man of many talents, and all the world is, apparently, a stage. It seems that the Empire needs him — or someone who looks a lot like him — for a role that will call for the performance of a lifetime.
I left the theatre and walked down Fishtrap Hill into Paradise. Curious thing about this man’s city. All the really horrible bits of it have absolutely charming names. Like the Old Flower Market, which at one time must have been a place where you could buy flowers, but not in my lifetime. It burned down in that big fire about five years ago and nobody’s missed it; the inhabitants moved out and separated strictly on Theme lines – all the Blues went to Old Stairs, all the Greens to Paradise – with the result that there’s no longer anywhere in town where Blues and Greens can be found living side by side. No great loss. Theme-related murders are down about ten per cent since the Flower Market went up in smoke. It’s so much easier to tolerate your deadly enemies if you never see them from one year’s end to the next.
A respectable professional man like me has to have a reason for setting foot in Paradise; not something you’d do frivolously, or unless you absolutely had to. I walked down a couple of alleys, with that dreadful twitchy feeling you simply can’t help, like painfully sore eyes in the back of your head, then stopped at one of twenty or so identical anonymous soot-black doors, wrapped a bit of cloth round my knuckles and knocked three times. The door opened, and this woman stood there staring at me.
You wouldn’t put her on the stage. You wouldn’t dare to. Stereotypes and caricatures are all very well – our life’s blood, if the truth be told – but there’s such a thing as overdoing it. So, if you want an obnoxious old hag, you go for two or three out of the recognised iconography: wrinkles, hooked nose, wispy thin white hair like sheep’s wool caught in brambles, shrivelled hands like claws, all that. You don’t use them all, because it’s too much. Which is why you don’t get much real life on the stage. Nobody would believe it.