Tuesday, April 5, 2016

New Novella Review - The Devil You Know

Novella - The Devil You Know 
Writer - K. J. Parker       
Published By - Tor Books

No action or extravagant world building is necessary, only two characters can a make a story work if you know how to tell it. K. J. Parker proves that with this work of his. There are only two characters telling us their story in alternative first person narrative and the prose and setting are so skillfully engrossing that it is really hard to put down.

'The Devil You Know' tells us the story of the greatest philosopher of all time, who is offering to sell his soul to the Devil, in return he only wants twenty more years to complete his life’s work. But the assistant demon assigned to the case has his suspicions, because the philosopher is Saloninus–the greatest philosopher, yes, but also the greatest liar, trickster and cheat the world has yet known; the sort of man even the Father of Lies can’t trust. He’s almost certainly up to something; but what? It is for the assistant and the readers to find out the true desire of Salonius. And that is simply the story of this novella.

The whole prose is actually alternating between the first person prospective of the main two characters; as we get to know their thoughts, their past, their motivations; and with the assistant we try to decipher the true goal of Saloninus while also wondering what might really be his life's work? Despite any lack of action this is a fast paced and thrilling read with various twists and turns during which readers keep wondering what truly is the ultimate end for the philosopher. I could not but love Saloninus and wished throughout that he got his way despite the various negative aspects of his character yet I did feel for the assistant who was trying so hard to keep his end of the bargain while trying to right by the world and humanity in his own way. And that in my opinion is the true triumph of the writer who made me as a reader care about both sides of a conflict.

One negative about the novella is the occasional confusion regarding the sudden switch of point-of-views, as it was a bit hard to distinguish, specially early on. Another aspect is that the assistant demon seemed a bit too naive at times but that is to be expected as we already know about the capabilities of Saloninus as a con artist.

This fun little novella gets 4 out of 5 stars from me.  

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