Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The Company by KJ Parker
I'm willing to bet you haven't heard of The Company before, and I'm going to chock part of that up to a woeful mislabeling of the product. It is listed and sold as a work of science fiction/fantasy. It's true that the country where the action takes place is fictional, but the world that is recreated in its pages is a virtual clone of the Europe of centuries past. There is no magic, sorcery, elves, or God forbid, talking trees.
It is as much a work of science fiction as this blog is Pulitzer worthy.
The company follows five infamous veterans of a failed war as they return home to their small community. Out of loyalty to one another, disillusionment with their return home, and sheer boredom they agree to establish a colony on a deserted island discovered during the war. It is their chance to start over, but as with everything they touch, death and chaos follow. Barns burn. Crops fail. The colony begins to turn on itself - and then a dark secret from the war threatens to destroy not only the present and future, but their memories of the past as well.
From the first page I think you can pick up on the fact that this is not a novel that will end with rainbows and green pastures, and it certainly does not. What it does do is introduce us to a group of men forged by war yet consumed with demons born in childhood. It slowly sheds light on a consistent pattern of doom and tragedy that looms over these men, and part of our own heart aches with them.
This is not an action novel, although there are scenes of warfare and violence aplenty. It is, primarily, a cerebral journey into the heart of loyalty and betrayal, told through the eyes of men more accustomed to a sword than a confessional.
A very good novel.
3.25 out of 4