Has anyone read the book Devices and Desires, by K.J. Parker? I just picked it up earlier on, as it's just been published in the US after a couple of years in the UK, where it was pretty well recieved. The Engineer Trilogy Devices and Desires (2005) Parker (the Scavenger trilogy) raises the bar for realistic fantasy war craft with this series opener. When the engineering guild sentences Ziani Vaatzes to death for improving on its supposedly perfect specifications for mechanical toys, he manages to escape Mezentia and throws in his lot with its recently defeated enemy, city-state Eremia. In exile, Vaatzes sets up shop making weapons, but his real goal is to create a new kind of engine?one made of human components, designed to reunite him with his family. He painstakingly executes a slow-moving master plan involving love, betrayal and secrets among the two countries' leaders. The tragic aftermath of the climactic battle forces a rereading of all that went before. It takes some hard slogging to get through assiduously researched technical descriptions of everything from dressing a duke to hunting a boar, and a few too many coincidences and expository speeches mar Parker's otherwise exquisite feat of literary engineering. Evil for Evil (2006) Civitas Vadanis is in trouble. The Mezentines have declared war; and the Mezentines are very focused on their goals when it comes to killing. Duke Valens, of Civitas Vadanis, has a dilemma. He knows that his city cannot withstand the invading army; yet its walls are his only defence against the Mezentines. Perhaps the only way to save his people is to flee, but that will not be easy either. Ziani Vaatzes, an engineer exiled by the Mezentines for his abominable creations, has already proven that he can defend a city. But Ziani Vaatzes has his own concerns, and the fate of Civitas Vadanis may not be one of them."Intelligent and compassionate?it should be celebrated." ?Interzone on Devices and Desires"One of the most entertaining fantasy debuts in recent years? incredibly vivid, refreshing, fun, thoughtful, absorbing." The Escapement (2007) The engineer Ziani Vaatzes engineered a war to be reunited with his family. The deaths were regrettable, but he had no choice. Duke Valens dragged his people into the war to save the life of one woman - a woman whose husband he then killed. He regrets the evil he's done, but he, equally, had no choice. Secretary Psellus never wanted to rule the Republic, or fight a desperate siege for its survival. As a man of considerable intelligence, he knows that he has a role to play - and little choice but to accept it. The machine has been built. All that remains is to set it in motion. I'm currently reading the first book, Devices and Desires - it's pretty good thus far.