JP On Gaming

Monday, December 18, 2023

[Kinda Book Report] Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City

I picked up this book prior to a work trip to Florida earlier this year. I always prefer to have a physical book when I travel and unable to find one that tickled my fancy on Amazon, I went to my local Barnes & Nobles to pick up a book by its cover.

After much browsing, I settled on this one.

Why? Because it seemed like a one-off. I have endless series because it typically means the author has no idea where the story is going. Give me a start-middle-end where I can then decide to continue.

Without spoiling... the story is that of siege. Sieges make for interesting stories.

The story has its moments, with a devious main character out of his league trying to sell lies to a Constantinople-style city. Many of the inventions/ ideas he uses are reasonable. The cast around him are competent and interesting with diverse perspectives that each highlighting different areas of concern. The characters are a high point.

Where do I start with the issues with this book? No messages of any kind can leave the city unless the main character does it. It just felt like a D&D game. A 100,000+ army sits outside a city for months without attacking. Airtight naval blockade (okay, that one made sense). The time passing is unclear at best. The whiffs of racism are unequally applied, feeling tacked on and not addressed more than in random scenes.

The worse of it all: the epilogue. I was waffling between "this is cool" and "this isn't great" but that epilogue... Basically, it said "none of this really happened and it does not matter." Telling me the reader that this was a work of fiction IN THE FICTIONAL WORLD. That sold it.

When I put the book down, I was not interested in reading the first chapters of other books. I just left them and closed the book.

What would you rate it, JP? I hear you asking. I waffled between a 2/5 and a 3/5 throughout my reading. The epilogue brought it down to a clear 1.5/5, rounding it out to a 2/5. A weak 2.

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