Review: How To Rule An Empire and Get Away With It (The Siege #2) by K.J Parker

Rating: 10/10


This is the story of how the City was saved, by Notker the professional liar, written down because eventually the truth always seeps through.

The City may be under siege, but everyone still has to make a living. Take Notker, the acclaimed playwright, actor and impresario. Nobody works harder, even when he’s not working. Thankfully, the good citizens of Classis appreciate an evening at the theatre even when there are large rocks falling out of the sky.

But Notker is a man of many talents, and all the world is, apparently, a stage. It seems that the Empire needs him – or someone who looks a lot like him – for a role that will call for the performance of a lifetime. At least it will guarantee fame, fortune and immortality. If it doesn’t kill him first.


Thank you to Nazia and Orbit books for providing me an ARC. All thoughts are mine

How to Rule an Empire is one of the, if not, the most brilliant fantasy novels based on the Byzantine Empire that I have ever read. This is a tale of a conman, a tale of an actor that becomes something bigger than life. I really liked Notker and his ability to adapt in this world-changing novel. An actor that is threatened by three of the most powerful men in the city suddenly becomes privy to the politics of the city that forces him to become Emperor.

Firstly, I applaud Orbit for taking this Byzantine inspired fantasy and adding it onto my shelf. The cover really makes a lot of sense when you read the entire novel. I feel Notker’s mother never really liked him and really wished that in the sequel, we see their chemistry becoming repaired. I was disappointed not to see a map because I really want to see a map of this Byzantine inspired fantasy. I also wished to see more of Ogus and his scenes developing with Notker who becomes the Emperor in a way.

This is also, of course, inspired by the 1453 Siege of Constantinople. If you watch Netflix’s Rise of Empire: Ottoman, it provides a somewhat balanced viewpoints of the Roman and Ottoman viewpoints from the siege. If you get started with book 1, it’ll provide some very good context. Notker seems to be inspired from Giovanni Giustiniani, apparently a Genose Captain, part of the Imperial Byzantine titles: Imperial Stable Master.

Bascially put, he’s comes from one of the greatest families of Genose. Hired by the last official Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos, Giovanni proved to be a pain in the neck for the Ottomans. He would fight them back, and he would conduct schemes and ruses to trick the Ottoman attackers. Very similiar things happen. Except you can guess here: Like Notker, Giovanni also fled the city when the attack led by the Ottomans was led by a ferecious assault and Giovanni fled, but he succumbed to his wounds (he attacked but he was wounded very severly). Notker has something similar…but you can figure that out. And I did not like Hodda. I don’t think she was ever a good fit for Notker in the first place (in brain and cunning yes. In love? Never.) I think Notker needs some really positive women in his life. Both his mother and Hodda are horrendous in my opinion. Captain Very was also a great character 🙂

I had so much fun reading this in the first person, I felt I was actively involved in Notker’s story. I CAN’T wait to see where his story goes! Truly, this IS the performance of a lifetime. I daresay Notker has gotten a bigger role that was very…tremendous for an actor of his capabilities. I cannot wait to read book 3! 10/10 from me.