Review: The Company

Posted: September 16, 2009 by in Books that are Mediocre (3/5 single_star) Meta: K.J. Parker, Fantasy

K.J. Parker’s THE COMPANY (Amazon) has a paperback release here shortly. We figured after reading the Engineer Trilogy that we should give her (K.J. Parker) another chance. Bottom line here: we really wanted to like this novel, but at the end of the day, we were left unsatisfied.

Let’s be clear here, we didn’t hate THE COMPANY, but we sure didn’t love it either. This novel follows the story of A Company, a small group of soldiers who were considered the most fearsome during a past war. THE COMPANY is partially about their attempts to reintegrate into society after the war, and partially about their attempts to colonize an island they… procured.

The good? OK, we suppose we can start there. The set-up of the novel is well done. The flash-backs between the current time-period and their days in the war is well done. It has a slight LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA feel to it (Hurray!). The big, problematic-type logic flaw that was present in the Engineer’s Trilogy is absent, and it made the novel a tad more enjoyable.

The premise is extremely worthy as well. We love the idea of people who were your lifeline, your stability, and the people who were closest to you becoming your obstacles. Lots of drama and conflict there. Or potential for it rather.

However. (Yeah, it’s a bummer, but someone has to tell you the problems…)

THE COMPANY--and consequently Parker--is middle of the road. Some people are certain to love it, while others will consider it nothing but mediocre.

The subtitle on the novel says “The War is Never Over.” We wish that was really the case. What it should have been was “This Book Isn’t About War.” Yes, we are aware that Parker probably meant to be all symbolic here. Whatever. Had this novel focused on the actual war (this novel is billed as military fantasy, after all), and less on the poor administration of a colony, it would have been much more interesting. Really, we aren’t violence starved maniacs (well, Steve is) and we can appreciate a book that doesn’t have it. However, our expectations with this novel weren’t met. Not by a long shot. Or rather no shot at all. Remember… the lack of violence?

Also, Parker has clarity issues in her writing. Where Scott Lynch was able to seamlessly transition between past and present, Parker is unable to do so quite so perfectly. In addition, the jumps between the PoVs aren’t as clean as in her Engineer novels. In other words, the story was a little better, but the writing a little worse than the Engineer Trilogy.

We also had trouble with many of the characters in a lot of ways. In this type of book especially, the characters need to be engaging, vivid, and interesting. Sadly, most of them were pretty flat and didn’t progress a lot. Earth to Parker! When you kill a character make it awesome! Character death was handled in a very ‘meh’ sort of manner in this book. Give it impact on the emotions of other characters! We know, a novel concept (no pun intended)! This was poorly done here.

As you can see, we were left unsatisfied. Look, all we want is a good story, with good characters. This just wasn’t quite up to that challenge. It promised a lot, but delivered on very little of it.

In all, we’ve decided THE COMPANY–and consequently Parker–is middle of the road. Some people are certain to love it, while others will consider it nothing but mediocre. We are in the latter camp. If you did like her other works, you will, without a doubt, like this novel, and you should purchase it. If you were “meh” about her work, this won’t change your mind in the slightest.

  • Recommended Age: 16+. Lots of administrative type stuff here that will go over a younger person's head.
  • Language: There were professional soldiers, so yes, there is language. It is prominent, but not excessive.
  • Violence: Very little. Kind of a bummer. These guys are supposed to be crazy awesome, yet all they do is stand around and live off reputation. Rather lame.
  • Sex: Nope

Note: You may have noticed this review lacked our normal humor. Why, you ask? The sheer mediocrity of the novel literally (Yes literally. Like a vampire who has been on a diet for months) sucked the humor out of us. We each cried a little.


  • sortitus says:

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    Thanks for not mincing words, my friends. Your reviews are always entertaining and enlightening. I just hope you don't get murdered by any novelists before you finish reviewing every book ever written.

    • Gah! Sorry about that, we had some technical difficulties posting this one. It's fixed. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. If I had a gold star, I stick to to your forehead.

      Don't worry we won't get murdered…today.

  • It is true that this is not the best of fantasy novels, however I like it. I find it to be on my liking, but I know it will not be on everyones liking.
    And I find the tagline to be heavily misleading 🙂

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