Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Hammer The Hammer
by K. J. Parker

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Stephen Litten

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 met’Oc but better known as Gig, the youngest son of the exiled met’Oc 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 pig’s skull. And while all the action takes place in a small locale, there is a definite difference in the feeling evoked by Gig’s family life and that of his freedom, or personal exile.

I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more of K. J. Parker’s work in the future.

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