Monday, 7 March 2016

Book Review | The Devil You Know by K. J. Parker


The greatest philosopher of all time is offering to sell his soul to the Devil. All he wants is twenty more years to complete his life’s work. After that, he really doesn’t care.

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?

***

If there's one thing you can say with certainty about the work of K. J. Parker, it's that there's always more to it than meets the eye, so the fact that the personage of K. J. Parker hid a similar mystery made more than a modicum of sense. Who was he really? What might his use of a pseudonym mean? Was he even a he?

For a decade these questions played a part in damn near every discussion of the aforementioned author, and factored, furthermore, into the mystique surrounding everything he'd written in addition. Then, late last April, the big secret was revealed: K. J. Parker was indeed a he, and his alter ego was Tom Holt. Of course.

In the wake of the stories surrounding the announcement, I found myself wondering whether we might not have lost some of the patented K. J. Parker magic in the course of getting to know the unknown. Well, if The Devil You Know is anything to go on, the answer to that question is a resounding no.

After the small wonder that was The Last Witness, a taut tale about a gambler who bets on memories, an equally brief book about a business transaction sounded, I'll say, decidedly less exciting. But things get very interesting very quickly, because the deal that sets this subversive story in motion is between a famous philosopher known as Salonius and—well... the devil. Or at least his employee of the year.

The former fellow will be familiar to folks who remember reading Blue and Gold—either in its own right or as part of K. J. Parker's sought-after Subterranean Press collection, Academic Exercises—as a Jack of all trades who dabbled, in that narrative, in alchemy. His dabbling, alas, led to the death of his knife of a wife, but on the bright side, "after writing all those amazing books and inventing all that amazing stuff, he finally became rich as a result of discovering how to make synthetic blue paint." (pp.20-21)

But for some, money is not enough—and so to The Devil You Know, which stars a Salonius approaching the end of his life with what he says is his single greatest ambition still unfulfilled. His appeal to the Powers That Be for a mite more time inspires a swathe of suspicions in the demon dispatched to discuss terms with said, but with the immortal soul of such a significant figure on offer, the deal is done with just a little dickering.
Our standard form of contract— 
Slightly amended to suit the specific requirements of the customer, but the core phraseology, the magic words that do the business, always stay the say—indefeasibly and absolutely devise and remit, in perpetuity, and so forth. In this case, we'd thrown in a guaranteed twenty years of healthy life, plus rejuvenation to age twenty-five. Apart from that, he was entitled to the usual package of benefits; access to limited specified supernatural powers through the agency of his designated case officer. That would be me. (p.32)
When his charge begins behaving strangely, Salonius' so-called case officer's earlier concerns reemerge. The erstwhile alchemist invades a country—whether for power, prestige or because "years ago a Mysian kicked sand in his face on a beach somewhere [...] you just don't know" (p.48)—then sets about bringing his dead wife back to life. But hang on a cotton-pickin' minute; he didn't even like her!
I was deeply troubled. Not in itself unusual; but I had a distinct feeling that I'd missed something. That's not a normal or comfortable feeling for me. I don't miss things. Like I said, I live and have my being in the detail. Also, if I had that feeling, it was because I was meant to. It was as thought he'd put up a big painted sign saying UP TO SOMETHING and was sitting directly beneath it. (p.59)
Our demon just doesn't understand—which goes some way towards making him the more relatable of The Devil You Know's pair of narrators. Repeated reflections on his "God-given" (p.75) gift for keeping secrets make Salonius himself seem smug and superior; his case officer, on the other hand, is an actual agent of evil, but at least he's decent. For a demon.

Confusing this issue still further is the fact that both of the aforementioned perspectives are explicated in the first-person, without even a twist in tense to differentiate them. By design, I dare say, this decision is likely to leave some readers feeling frustrated, but as with anything Parker has a hand in, there's a method behind the apparent madness, and in this instance, the method is seemingly meaningful, and finally fulfilling.

Add to the cleverly-conceived characters The Devil You Know depends upon any number of K. J. Parker's other trademarks: droll dialogue; engrossing asides; the winningly disinterested way he works in worldbuilding; a smorgasbord of semi-colons; and finally a feeling, from the first, that there's more to this story than meets the eye. Like Salonius says:
Keeping secrets from the All-Seeing isn't as hard as it sounds. The key is making sure they don't correctly interpret what they see. Simple misdirection; the street conjurer's stock-in-trade. (p.74)
This is K. J. Parker's gift: the ability to tell one story while seeming to tell another—and it's as satisfying here as it's ever been.

***

The Devil You Know
by K. J. Parker

US Publication: March 2016, Tor.com

Buy this book from
Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com
The Book Depository

Or get the Kindle edition

Recommended and Related Reading

13 comments:

  1. BROTHERHOOD OF ILLUMINATI Easy way to join the Illuminati brotherhood in the world. Are you a business man or woman,an artist,Politicians,pastor, and you want to become big, Powerful and famous in the world, join us to become one of our official member today.you shall be given an ideal chance to visit the Satan. or you are from a poor background, and you really want to be famous in life.or do you want to become very rich in life, this is the chance for you to become rich and eradicate poverty from your life, the illuminati want to use this to help the poor and also to make people famous in life, if you are really ready to become a member of the illuminati temple than contact Mr JOHN.Via EMAIL..illuminatilordmater@gmail.comso that we can make your dream come through. i want to promise you that you will not regret this so i want you to join us now and live a very happy life. or call us on +2348164074840 for more information..

    ReplyDelete
  2. WELCOME TO THE OFFICAL POST OF THE CHURCH OF SATAN

    The church of satan was created by our late hight priest magus anton szandor lavey on walpurgisachd 1966 as year one,since that date the church of satan
    and anton szandor lavey have become household name,the opening and floodgates of a revolution designed to smash the hypocrisy and unreason of organised religion and mystical philosophies of either rigit or left handpaths.
    our primary goals is to clearly disseminate the philosophy created by Anton szandor lavey to those who have an intrest in becoming a member of the church of satan, we are looking for a few outstanding individual who have what it takes to be one of the Alite elite.To us satan is the symbol that best suite the nature of we who are carner by birth.the name "illuminati" is a name given to the church of satan because of the aim of the church and the name "illuminati" means ALL FOR ONE or WE ARE ALL ONE.
    The church of satan is a religion that best suit men who want to increase their wisdom,their talent,their famouness and their wealth. the church of satan have help so many people in worldwide till date, the blessing of the church of satan is unlimited and can never stop if you are a member.
    Satanism is not for everyone but if you choose to be a member,we welcome you.church of satan is not a fan club,a pen pal society,or a loney heart group, the church of satan is a group of dynamic individuals who stand forth as the ultimate underground alternative -the Alien Elite. we realize what we have,what we are and what we shall become. our scope is unlimited and extent of your involvement is base upon your own potential.
    Beware of who you contact if you choose to become member of the church of satan because not all post are real. the church of satan is not a play ground for kids or those who just want to become a member and posses wealth, before joinning the church of satan you must have something you engage yourself in that you want the church of satan to increase.email joinilluminatitemple626@gmail.com PLEASE NOTE: There is no local branched on any local contact through which one can become a member, the only central administration office is only here in U.S.A in new york
    CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION OFFICE
    church of satan
    p.o.box 666
    poughkeepsie
    new york
    email: joinilluminatitemple626@gmail.com whatsapp number +2349073889037
    phone calls are not accepted or returned.
    That is the administration office, if you choose to make your dreams come true you can join through that address giving above or if you think that you can not make it to U.S.A you can send a mail to that email address that is also there, so that you can be instruct how to join the church of satan
    WARNING: only those who are intrested to become a member of the church of satan are allow to visit office or send a mail to the email address below.
    Do not contact if you are not intrested and once you contact there is no going back. so think befor contacting.
    email:joinilluminatitemple626@gmail.com OR whatsapp number +2349073889037.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello everyone I am Mr Smith Benson from USA, I am giving a testimony on how I joined the illuminati brotherhood, I was trying to join this organization for so many years now,I was scammed by fake agent in south Africa and Nigeria,I was down,I could not feed my self and my family anymore and I tried to make money by all miss but all avail, I was afraid to contact any Illuminati agent because they have eat my money.One day I across a post of someone giving a testimony, thanking a man called Paul mark of being helping him to join the illuminati brotherhood, then I look at the man email and the phone number that was written there, it was a Nigeria number I was afraid to contact him because a Nigeria agent eat my $5,000 and go away with the money then I was very tired, confused and I decided to contact the person that was given the testimony and i called him and I communicated with him on phone calls before he started telling me his own story about when he wanted to join, he told me everything to do, then I made up my mind and called the agent called Paul mark and he told me everything to do, and I was initiated, surprisingly I was given my benefit of being a new member of the great illuminati brotherhood I was so happy,For those of you trying to join this organization this is your opportunity for you to join CONTACT MR PAUL MARK call (+2348163028633 or WhatsApp him +2348163028633 or email: illuminatiworldoffamous@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello everyone I am Mr Smith Benson from USA, I am giving a testimony on how I joined the illuminati brotherhood, I was trying to join this organization for so many years now,I was scammed by fake agent in south Africa and Nigeria,I was down,I could not feed my self and my family anymore and I tried to make money by all miss but all avail, I was afraid to contact any Illuminati agent because they have eat my money.One day I across a post of someone giving a testimony, thanking a man called Paul mark of being helping him to join the illuminati brotherhood, then I look at the man email and the phone number that was written there, it was a Nigeria number I was afraid to contact him because a Nigeria agent eat my $5,000 and go away with the money then I was very tired, confused and I decided to contact the person that was given the testimony and i called him and I communicated with him on phone calls before he started telling me his own story about when he wanted to join, he told me everything to do, then I made up my mind and called the agent called Paul mark and he told me everything to do, and I was initiated, surprisingly I was given my benefit of being a new member of the great illuminati brotherhood I was so happy,For those of you trying to join this organization this is your opportunity for you to join CONTACT MR PAUL MARK call (+2348163028633 or WhatsApp him +2348163028633 or email: illuminatiworldoffamous@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. JOIN THE brotherhood OF ILLUMINATI CALL Dr mark +2349061232079 whats App OR INFO .joinilluminatiworldwide4@gmail.com ARE YOU A BUSINESS MAN OR WOMAN , POLITICAL , MUSICIAN , STUDENT , THE YOU WANT TO BE RICH , FAMOUS, POWERFUL IN LIFE, JOIN THE ILLUMINATI brotherhood CULT TODAY AND GET INSTANT RICH SUM OF . 1MILLION DOLLARS IN AWEEK , AND A FREE HOME ANYWHERE YOU CHOOSE TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD AND ALSO GET 10, 000 ,000 U . S DOLLARS MONTHLY AS A SALARY. . . BENEFITS GIVEN TO NEW MEMBERS WHO JOIN THE ILLUMINATI . 1. A CASH REWARD OF USD $ 500, 000 USD 2. A NEW SLEEK DREAM CAR VALUED AT $300 ,000 USD 3. A DREAM HOUSE BOUGHT IN THE COUNTRY OF YOUR OWN CHOICE 4. ONE MONTH HOLIDAY ( FULLY PAID) TO YOUR DREAM TOURIST DESTINATION. 5. ONE YEAR GOLF MEMBERSHIP PACKAGE A V . I . P 6. TREATMENT IN ALL AIRPORTS IN THE WORLD 7. A TOTAL LIFESTYLE CHANGE ACCESS TO BOHEMIAN GROVE 8. MONTHLY PAYMENT OF $1, 000 ,000 USD INTO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT EVERY MONTH. 9. ONE MONTH BOOKED APPOINTMENT WITH TOP 5 WORLD LEADERS AND TOP 5 CELEBRITIES IN THE WORLD . IF YOU ARE INTERESTED CALL THE AGENT NOW +2349061232079 AND STAND BY THE 666 COMMAND OF ILLUMINATI . . . .

    ReplyDelete

  6. I was thinking that Illuminati is not real, But today with Mr Albert I now believe that Illuminati is real, when you come across wrong person’s you will think that life is not real but when you are with the real one you will experience the goodness of your life, To MR Albert has made me discovered my purpose of life. Welcome to the great brotherhood of Illuminati 666: WhatsApp Mr Albert +1(206)4009418 OR EMAIL: illuminatiofficaltemple006@gmail.com .from , USA, and every other Country’s on how to join the Illuminati brotherhood to get rich and famous, You may be a politician, business man/woman ,musical artist, student, footballer or whatever occupation you do, you want to be rich, powerful and famous in life. Illuminati can grant all your heart desires join the Illuminati to become rich and famous in life, Illuminati will make you achieve your dream to become rich and protect you all the days of your life……

    ReplyDelete
  7. Welcome to illuminati brotherhood where you can become rich famous and popular and your life story we be change totally. my name is Harrison I am here to share my testimony on how I join the great brotherhood Illuminati and my life story was change immediately . I was very poor no job and I has no money to even feed and take care of my family I was confuse in life I don’t know what to do I try all my possible best to get money but no one work out for me each day I share tears, I was just looking out my family no money to take care of them until one day I decided to join the great Illuminati , I come across them in the internet I never believe I said let me try I email them.all what they said we happen in my life just started it was like a dream to me they really change my story totally . They give me the sum of $1,000,000 and many thing. through the Illuminati I was able to become rich, and have many industry on my own and become famous and popular in my country , today me and my family is living happily and I am the most happiest man here is the opportunity for you to join the Illuminati and become rich and famous in life and be like other people and you life we be change totally. If you are interested in joining the great brotherhood Illuminati contact this number call +2348163028633 or WhatsApp the same number +2348163028633 or email illuminatiworldoffamous@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. JOIN THE ILLUMINATI CALL OR WHATSAPP AGENT HARRY +2349036317149 info.worldilluminati468@gmail.com ,ILLUMINATI ONLY GIVE OPPORTUNITY TO ANY ONE HOW HAS GOOD REPUTATION TO SHOW IN ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD TODAY,TO BECOME RICH, FAMOUS AND POWERFUL IN THE WORLD.email us on info.worldilluminati468@gmail.com OR call us on +2349036317149 for immediate initiation New members registration is now open online now !!!!! BENEFITS GIVEN TO NEW MEMBERS WHO JOIN ILLUMINATI. A Cash Reward of USD $300,000 USD A New Sleek Dream CAR valued at USD $120,000 USD A Dream House bought in the country of your own choice One Month holiday (fully paid) to your dream tourist destination. One year Golf Membership package A V.I.P treatment in all Airports in the World A total Lifestyle change Access to Bohemian Grove Monthly payment of $1,000,000 USD into your bank account every month as a member One Month booked Appointment with Top 5 world Leaders and Top 5 Celebrities in the World.

    ReplyDelete
  9. IF you want to be rich, famous, powerful in life, join the Illuminati
    brotherhood cult today and get instant rich sum of. 2 million dollars
    in a week, and a free home.any where you choose to live in this world
    and also get 10,000,000 U.S dollars monthly as a salary %u2026
    BENEFITS GIVEN TO NEW MEMBERS WHO JOIN ILLUMINATI. 1. A Cash Reward of
    USD $500,000 USD 2. A New Sleek Dream CAR valued at USD $300,000 USD
    3.A Dream House bought in the country of your own choice 4. One Month
    holiday (fully paid) to your dream tourist destination. 5.One year
    Golf Membership package 6.A V.I.P treatment in all Airports in the
    World 7.A total Lifestyle change 8.Access to Bohemian Grove 9.Monthly
    payment of $1,000,000 USD into your bank account every month as a
    member 10.One Month booked Appointment with Top 5 world Leaders and
    Top 5 Celebrities in the World. If you are interested four your info
    we make use of animal blood
    kindly fill out the form and return
    Hello,we the brotherhood received your mail and i want you to
    know that your your wish is what deliver we are going to make you rich
    and famous without any side effect here in our kingdom we only make
    use of animal blood okay so if you are really ready to become a member
    all you need do is to fill out the form and return so we can proceed
    further okay
    Your full name:……..
    State:………..
    Country………..
    Age:………..
    Meritual status:……
    Phone number:………
    Occupation:……….
    Home town:……..
    Have you applied before?:…….
    Sex:……
    Have you makeup your mind:….
    Send your details to this Email:illuminatiihome65@gmail.com or his whatsapp
    (+2349067603777)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am Martha Happiness Smith, a citizen of the united states of America, A single mom with three kids I wanna write and share this post of mine to the entire world how i was helped by Mr john Allan, A trustworthy and kind heated Man. Before i met Mr john Allan i was in hell going through difficult financial crisis. My business was't moving well and i was unable to pay my rent and my kids school fees. I had no option to get the money i was looking, all my friends couldn't help me. I was surfing through the internet when i saw the post of Mr john Allan how he changed someone life. I contacted him and told him my problem and i said to him that i want to be a member one of them. Mr john Allan went to ahead as an Agent, He told his Grand Master about me and my request to join was granted. After all the necessarily procedures, i was fully initiated as a member of the great Illuminati kingdom. a day after my initiation, i received a message from my Bank that someone just transfer the sum of $500,000.00 USD to my account. I was shocked, Mr john Allan called me immediately and asked if i received the money that was sent to me, i said yes, he said that the money is part of my benefit as a new member. The happiest part was that my business that was almost down was now moving well as well. This was how i was helped.
    If you know you reading this and you want to be a member, Kindly email john Allan via illuminaticult0666@gmail.com Or whatsapp hem +2348038253815

    Thank you once again Mr john Allan

    ReplyDelete
  11. Welcome to illuminati brotherhood where you can become rich famous and popular and your life story we be change totally. I am here to share my testimony on how I join the great brotherhood Illuminati and my life story was change immediately . I was very poor no job and I have no money to even feed and take care of my family I was confuse in life I don’t know what to do I try all my possible best to get money but nothing works out for me each day I shared tears, I was just looking out for my family no money to take care of them until one day I decided to join the great Illuminati , I come across them in the internet I never believe I said let me try I email them. all what they said we happen in my life just started it was like a dream to me they really change my story totally . They give me the sum of $500,000,000 and many other things as benefits. through the Illuminati I was able to become rich, and have many investments on my own and become famous and popular in my country , today me and my family is living happily and I am the most happiest man here is the opportunity for you to join the Illuminati and become rich and famous in life and be like other people and your life will be changed totally. If you are interested in joining the great brotherhood of Illuminati Visit Illuminati World Now on their official website at http://www.illuminatiworldnow.com/

    ReplyDelete
  12. SHOULD YOU BE INTERESTED TO JOIN THE HOOD KINDLY WHATSAPP +15088192672 OR EMAIL churchofilluminatiinitiation@gmail.com NOW
    There's one old secret that has worked for quite a good number of people.
    I tapped into it some times ago and so far,it has been working for me.
    Simple!!!
    Whatever you think of often, becomes your reality.
    Further put, whichever way you condition your mind,
    the universe connives to give it to you.
    But as simple as it is, it is the hardest thing to do.
    You must have heard stories of unmerited favour right?
    That's the Universe conniving to give to you what you have
    conditioned your mind to get.
    It happens, it always does.
    I can't start giving explanations about my life... This isn't about
    me, it is about you reading this message
    Though a beautiful example is myself.
    I became very close to my dream when I realize how much important  i needed to channel my energy towards positive vibes. Which brings us to the the reason why you must join illuminati.
    Clerics will tell you, there is power in the tongue............. well, they fail to tell you where the real power is: Your MIND.
     That is where the thought is first conceived before it is spoken. Brothers and Sisters condition your mind to positivity by joining illuminati hood today and see it
    manifest in your life. I know it's hard here because of scamms you might have gone through previously but believe me as a member of the hood i promise to help you and get initiated to the hood so you can enjoy your life with wealth, fame and power.
    As a new member initiated to the illuminati hood, a cash sum of $2,000,000.00 will be credited to your bank account including a house in any country of your choice and also a brand new car of your dream. Mind you, all this will be given to YOU immediately after your initiation to the illuminati hood.
     I know you has a positive mindset to join the hood. Should you be interested, contact whatsapp+15088192672, you can also email churchofilluminatiinitiation@gmail.com
    with your loyalty and positive mindset let's get started.Mind you!! REGISTRATION IS FREE TO NEW MEMBERS
     

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello, Do you want to join the illuminati and be rich ,famous and powerful? for the rest of your life ? Benefits given to new member who join the illuminati Brotherhood!!!
    into your bank account $50,000,000USD ......
    Weekly salary $600,000USD .........
    A car value at $400.000USD.......
    Award contract worth $200,000,000USD.......
    A House in any country of your own choice. And a free visa to your dream country.Total lifestyle changes?? if you are interested, WhatsApp us: +2348147226753 ,or Email us on: illuminatitemle666@gmail.com , so we can begin the joining process!!!

    ReplyDelete