|Once again, K. J. Parker has produced a fantasy novel in
which there is neither magic, paranormal activity nor non-humans. We are thrust into the
world of a young man, Gignomai metOc but better known as Gig, the youngest son of
the exiled metOc family. They are the stick with which The Company keep their colony
line. The family was exiled before any of the current generation was born for backing the
wrong political faction. The father holds to the conceit they will return and regain their
positions and wealth. Gig sees the situation for what it is: they are one step above the
peasants surrounding them by virtue of having a monopoly of firearms.
Gig's position as
third son sees him destined for law of the priesthood, and he absconds to live in the
colony. Initially he seems bent on selling a precious heirloom, but he has missed the last
boat of the season. So he enters into trade and sets up a hammer mill, using knowledge
gleaned from books and sets about organising a revolution to free the colony from the
tyranny of his own family and The Company.
The Hammer feels as though it is set in the same world as The
Folding Knife and The Engineer Trilogy, and the story
shows some of Parker's fascination with renaissance engineering and court politics. The
hero is definitely not superhuman and is motivated by revenge, the motive for which is
revealed late in the book. Parker has an easy style and her characters behave in
wonderfully human fashion. Perhaps my joy in reading her work is the plot turning on small
things, such as the size of a bullet recovered from a pigs skull. And while all the
action takes place in a small locale, there is a definite difference in the feeling evoked
by Gigs family life and that of his freedom, or personal exile.
I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more of K. J. Parkers
work in the future.