Title: The Company
Author: K.J. Parker
Recommendation: An excellent read for those who enjoy gritty fantasy.
Summary: Kunessin comes back to Faralia to find four other men who were part of A Company during the war. He gets them to move to a remote island where they can start a new life for themselves with their new wives and indentured servants. But nothing is ever simple and there's more than one secret hidden on the island.
Reactions: This is the first time I've read anything by K. J. Parker, but all the hype I've heard about the book is true. The Company is a really solid modern fantasy novel that is both character-centric and action-heavy at the same time.
The first thing that happens is that we get to meet the five survivors of the A Company, who served together many years and now are getting reunited again. General Kunessin is the leader and the mastermind of the trip whom the rest would follow to the end of the earth. The other four are pretty distinct characters also and we get to learn quite a bit about each person's history throughout the book. In fact, I think the best parts of the novel are those revealing the men in new light through the stories of their past together. In many cases, it made me think worse of the characters, but there's a fascination to following them even as you like some of them less and less. By the time the secrets are out, I was already pretty invested in everyone there.
At the same time, the book has a good dose of action and the plot moves along quite well. There are a couple of interesting twists and the ending is very well written if not quite what I wish it would be. It reminded me of the blog post that's been making its way around the blogosphere on how fantasy is losing its shininess. Well, I am in the camp that enjoys gritty fantasy, even though I am a sucker for happy endings at the same time.
Overal, The Company was an excellent read. Lots of interesting characters and character development in addition to pretty good plot twists. Highly recommended.