Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Purple and Black Hardcover – July 30, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$51.01 $3.04

Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this heartbreaking epistolary novella, pseudonymous military fantasist Parker (The Company) keeps the letters, humor and tension moving at a quick clip. Nicephorus becomes the reluctant emperor of the Vesani after all his imperial relatives kill one other off. Knowing that 72 of the past century's 77 emperors have been murdered by the military, he appoints his trusted friend Phormio to command on a frontier filled with almost preternaturally effective insurgents. Each man sends two letters at a time to the other: one in official purple ink, the other a black-inked personal missive ranging from hilarious to despairing. As enemies become stalwart allies, sorrow lurks within victory and a forgotten moment of youth threatens everything, Parker sends the brief (but never terse) story flying to a wrenching and all too realistic conclusion. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean (July 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159606241X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596062412
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,159,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd already read two of K.J. Parker's works - "Sharps" and "The Company". I didn't care for them and swore off reading anymore of the author's endeavors. Then a friend started raving about 'Purple and Black". He told me he thought it was far superior to any of the other items by K.J. Parker he'd read. I caved in and picked it up. My friend seldom steers me wrong, and as it turns out I agree with his assessment of "Purple and Black".

P&B is quite different from the previous books I read. One, it's much shorter, making it a novella. Two, it's written as an epistolary, a series of letters between old college chums turned movers and shakers in a sort of alternative history Byzantine Empire. Each letter starts with the usual salutations listing each person's overblown title and then has a short, very formal summary of the information contained in the letter. Then the meat of the letter is presented and it's written much as you or I would write a letter - casual, full of slang,and the occasional expletive, and modern in delivery. Much to my shock, this method works very well.

The story starts out hilarious. As things progress the humor softens until by the end of the story there is a sort of melancholy acceptance of the inevitable. I don't agree with the blurbs on the back that paint the story as heart wrenching and sad. To me the story simply illustrates the extent to which humans will go to delude themselves, and how no matter what our ideals, in the end we'll fall into the same habits as our predecessors and business will continue as usual.

Needless to say (but I will do so anyway), my refusal to read anything by K.J. Parker is at an end. I may, however, stick to novellas in the future since this work read so much better for me than the longer works. Five stars all around!
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Exquisitely drawn story, very funny and then very tragic in all the right points. The story is an exchange of letters between two figures, the newly crowned Emperor and his long term schoolfriend set out to command at the frontier. The genre elements are a bit thin (it's closely modeled after Rome but equally clearly has its own specific events) but the actual process of emotion and exchange is first rate. Feels very much like a parable, sketching out the question of idealism and pragmatism in politics, and what happens to student promises for justice once the former students attain real power. A fairly grim long-term perspective, but the spark of character detail and effectively rendered perspectives make this a satisfying read, at once unique, plausible and surprisingly fun despite the grim result. Glad I came across this one.
Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tremendous. If this were the first book by Parker I had read, I would have instantly become a fan. Loved the twist at the end. The entire story is written in the form of letters back and forth; one set written in purple, the other in black. Hence the title. The story was full and complete even in this short length. Buy it and discover a really good author.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
KJ Parker might as well change his/her pen name to "The Enigmatic". Not only do the official blurbs refer to the author in this fashion, but virtually every review does the same. "KJ Parker" is a pseudonym (supposedly of someone that's already famous in another genre), but the cryptic reputation is reinforced by his/her chosen stylistic territory.

Parker writes epic fantasy with the tone and flair of the great existentialists. Imagine Camus (beret / chain-smoking / small coffee / derisive look) secretly going home and reading Tolkien under the covers. The closest modern comparison is Andrzej Sapkowski, who also lends a certain stark & philosophical bent to his work. (Although the 'stark' could be the result of the translations).

Purple and Black is a limited edition novella from Subterranean Press, who have defied the 2009 malaise by putting out some stonking short fiction over the past 12 months.

It is, first and foremost, a stunning book. Subterranean pulled out all the stops - even printing it in mixed purple and black text. A short (120 pg) book, this is a quick read, but by no means a light one.

The novella takes place in a world vaguely analogous to the late Roman empire, although, like in The Company, world-building details are kept deliberately abstracted in favor of character-building. And, despite the short span of the book, there's plenty of character. An epistolary novel tough to write, but Parker manages to bring both letter-writers to life. The idealistic young Emperor Nico and his cynical friend Phormio are both astoundingly empathetic - all the more impressive as we only know them from their own words.

Nico has appointed his friend as General.
Read more ›
Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Another wonderful novella by the elusive K.J. Parker, he* (!) who is still not paid the appropriate attention and respect despite a considerable output of consistently high quality.
I like epistolary storytelling - dispatches in this case exchanged between the Vesani emperor Nicephorus V. and his old academy friend Phormio whom he sent to Upper Tremissis to deal with insurgents. I hate spoilers so no more of the story here.
It's a quick read, 1-2 hours with a satisfying end and yes, I would have liked another 50-100 pages but the story is told and doesn't need more pages.
It takes place in the same universe all of Parker's novels and stories are situated in, though Parker steps up the humour this time - just read the names of some of the characters out loud: Nicephorus, Tremissis, the Philagyrus Brothers, Perimadeia, you get the idea or (page 32) "it isn't exactly catapult science" as Parker puts it.

*Does anybody really think a woman could have written a sentence like this (page 67): "The bond between two people who share a common devotion to hardcore porn is unbreakable."
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse