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Blue and Gold Hardcover – December 31, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean; Deluxe Hardcover Edition edition (December 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596063270
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596063273
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,160,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Parker (Purple and Black) opens this darkly comic novella with a grandiose proclamation from its flawed narrator. Saloninus claims to have mastered the art of turning base metal into gold and confesses to poisoning Eudoxia, his wife and the sister of his patron, Prince Phocas of Paraprosdocia. A talented alchemist, criminal, and admitted serial confabulator, the cheerfully amoral Saloninus relates his life history and efforts to escape Paraprosdocia and justice, hampered by his lack of resources and a broad array of enemies. In contrast to Parker's other protagonists, whose obsessive adherence to ostensible virtues leads them to commit atrocities, Saloninus is generally unburdened by laudable goals, though his focus on his own interests has similarly bloody results. The charms of this lovable rogue keep the story moving right up to the final punch line. (Jan.)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kat Hooper VINE VOICE on January 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Talk about unreliable narrators! If you like that technique, you're sure to enjoy K.J. Parker's Blue and Gold. It's a fast, intense, and dramatic little book that will entertain you for an afternoon.

Saloninus is probably the cleverest alchemist who ever lived (or is he?). After publishing several important (?) papers and losing his tuition money, he drops out of the university and begins a life of crime, then gets commissioned by the prince to figure out how to do two things: 1. Produce the elixir of eternal youth and 2. Turn base metal into gold. During the process, though, he accidentally (?) poisons his beautiful and brilliant wife, so now he's on the run and he's pretty stressed-out.

Blue and Gold's plot is told in a series of scenes that take place in the present and past as Saloninus gradually fills in more and more detail and occasionally corrects his previous misstatements. His scientific, yet unethical (perhaps even sociopathic), voice is fascinating. He doesn't let us in on some important facts, and every time he adjusts the story we get a fresh -- but not necessarily more accurate -- perspective. It's hard to know whether we're supposed to be for or against Saloninus; all we know is that we can't trust him. How can you trust someone who knowingly publishes scholarly papers based on faulty logic? And who won't tell you who he is or what his goals and purposes are? It's good that this novella is short, because this might not work in a longer story. Fortunately, Saloninus comes clean in the end, so you needn't worry about an ambiguous conclusion.

I enjoyed the setting of Blue and Gold. It's that cozy academic scene that I love: writing theses, studying, attending lectures, consulting advisers, gaining life-long friends.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ian Kaplan VINE VOICE on March 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Blue and Gold" is an enjoyable and memorable read. If you enjoyed "Black and Purple" and the Engineer Trilogy by K.J. Parker, you will probably enjoy this book.

K.J. Parker has a definite style. Many of the main characters are not heros. In fact, they tend to be amoral. The development of character is interesting, but sometimes somewhat cynical. I'd say that these characteristics are all true for "Blue and Gold".

Like K.J. Parker's "Black and Purple", the novella "Blue and Gold" is short and a quick read. The book is beautifully produced, as is the case with all of the books I have bought from the publisher, Subterranean Press. I expect that at some point an edition will be published that will collect Parker's novellas. For those who are not already strong Parker fans, paying $16.50 (Amazon's price) for a novella might be a bit much and these readers might want to wait for the collection.

In writing this review and thinking back on "Blue and Gold", I was tempted to write that there is a strain of misogyny in K.J. Parker's writing. The wife of the main character in the Engineer Trilogy doesn't come off that well. In the first paragraph of "Blue and Gold" we learn that the main character has murdered his wife. She is, it turns out, a vein and duplicitous woman. But then again, the men are pretty flawed as well, suggesting that Parker has a dark view of humanity in general, regardless of gender (making Parker a misanthrope, I suppose, not a misogynist).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on July 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Blue and Gold features Salonius, the greatest alchemist who has ever lived. That's according to him - and since he also admits to being the greatest liar, his accomplishments should be taken with a grain of salt. For his patron, Salonius has the wealthy Prince Procas. Procas is an old school friend who's generous to a fault and considerate of all Salonius' needs... as long as Salonius delivers that pesky elixir of eternal life (oh, and also the secret of lead into gold).

The novella follows Salonius' attempts at escape (time and time again). With only a handful of chemicals and bucketloads of chutzpah, he takes on overwhelming odds. However, as fragments of his background are revealed, the reader learns that he's not overly hampered by virtues either. He's a charismatic rogue, but the emphasis is on the rogue. That is, if he can be believed at all.

By Parker's standards, Blue and Gold is par for the course. This sounds negative, but even "average" Parker is better than 95% of everything else in the fantasy category. In Blue and Gold, the promising unreliable narrator shtick is never fully utilised and even Salonius' obvious charm isn't enough to carry a fairly straightforward story with a one-twist, one-liner ending.

Previously, I'd expressed concerns that Parker needed the space of a trilogy to work the traditional magic. Those worries have been dispelled (repeatedly) with works like Purple and Black and "A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong". Blue and Gold is, despite the promising set-up, merely an entertainment - and a step behind when it comes to Parker's trademark complexity and emotional engagement. Still, the story delivers on the fun and even Parker can't be ground-breaking all the time.
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