Review: Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City

Series: The Siege: #1

Yeah, this definitely fits this year’s ‘Judge A Book By Its Cover’ on the [[2024 Book Bingo]]. I mean… look at it! I love the title and have a soft spot for the illustrated manuscript style.

And then on top of that, it’s actually quite a delightful book as well. Win win!

I mention this because that’s how the world changes. It’s either so quick that we never know what hit us, or so gradual that we don’t notice.

In a nutshell, it’s the story of an alternate history Earth. Take a roughly medieval european tech level empire and an army corps of engineers (they build bridges) out on their own. Add a force somehow conquering everything, leaving said engineers really the only remaining hope. And then stick them in a city, the only hope to hold off against a siege.

But what really shines (for me–and your milage really may vary on this one) is the tone. The main character is competant (perhaps too much so at times) and wonderfully snarky.

I have strong views about not tempting providence and, as a wise man once said, the difference between luck and a wheelbarrow is, luck doesn’t work if you push it.

Things that have always been done? About to be undone–in the name of defending the city.

My belief is, either you understand things or you understand people. Nobody can do both. Frankly, I’m happier with things. I understand stuff like tensile strength, shearing force, ductility, work hardening, stress, fatigue. I know the same sort of things happen with people, but the rules are subtly different. And nobody’s ever paid for my time to get to know about people.

Yeah… he knows people better than he claims.

The people turn out to be—well, people; a collective noun for all those individual men and women, none of them perfect, some of them downright vicious, most of them monumentally stupid. As stupid as the emperor, the great hereditary lords, the priestly hierarchs, the General Staff and the Lords of the Admiralty, the merchant princes and the organised crime barons.

Anyways. You’ll know right away if you like this book or not. I loved it. Give it a try.

Of the people, by the people, for the people. I can’t remember offhand where that quote comes from; it was something to do with some bunch of wild-eyed idealists overthrowing the tyrant so they could become tyrants themselves. No good will have come of it, you can be sure. The people; God help us.