There’s no formal training for battlefield salvage. You just have to pick things up as you go along. Swords, armor, arrows – and the bodies, of course.
Over the years, Saevus Corax has picked up a lot of things. Some of them have made him decent money, others have brought nothing but trouble. But it’s a living, and somebody has to deal with the dead.
Something else that Saevus has buried is his past. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite succeed.
Saevus Corax Deals with the Dead is the initial book of a new trilogy written by the World Fantasy Award Winner K.J. Parker, published by Orbit Books. A story told from the voice of the unlikely main character, Saevus Corax, often breaking the fourth wall and with an excellent dose of sarcastic humor, which makes reading it really enjoyable.
At the start, we are shown the particularities of Saevus' work: scavenging battlefields in order to recover any object that can be sold for money; all told with the particular and dark humour of Saevus. However, soon we start getting hints about how this new occupation is just a convenient cover for Saevus' past, which is slowly introduced by retails of conversations with other characters; they seem to recognize him, but all is negated with vehemency.
But nobody can run forever from his past, and Saevus proves to not be an exception; in what seems to be a cruel joke of destiny, he ends in the position that he was avoiding for all his life, leading to hilarious and strange situations that will be the conductive thread of the book.
In the particular style of Parker, we don't have a conventional style of narration, as it feels closer to a Saevus' conversation with the reader, a dear friend having thoughts about his life and even sharing some bits of his philosophy and ideas on how the world works. While this kind of style might not be the best in terms of pacing, as a result, it creates a story that hooks you as soon as you connect with Corax.
Despite world-building not being the main focus of this book, I have to recognise the ability of Parker to create an interesting world, immense at some points, that contrasts with the size of our story, centered around the sole desventures of a man.
Saevus Corax Deals with the Dead is a fun and refreshing story, marking the start of a trilogy that I really want to continue. If you are into a different kind of fantasy, give K.J. Parker a try, because you won't be wrong.
K.J. Parker is a pseudonym for Tom Holt.
According to the biographical notes in some of Parker's books, Parker has previously worked in law, journalism, and numismatics, and now writes and makes things out of wood and metal. It is also claimed that Parker is married to a solicitor and now lives in southern England. According to an autobiographical note, Parker was raised in rural Vermont, a lifestyle which influenced Parker's work.