Walter Jon Williams’ Lord Quillifer is the third book of his Quillifer series. As you’d guess from the title—Williams apparently borrowed the titling sceheme from Horatio Hornblower books—our young Quillifer has been moving up in the world, and is now firmly ensconced at court and engaged in high-level political intrigue.

In my write-up of the first book, my biggest complaint was that it was “just a series of episodes. There’s no real larger arc to the story other than ‘here’s a bunch of stuff that happened to a guy.’” After this third book, I think I can safely say that’s not actually true; the arc exists, it’s just at series length. Although I should be clear that this is not (hopefully, vagaries of publishing permitting) the end of the series, it is a kind of caesura—the end of Quillifer’s first act.

The good news for fans of the series is that this retains the virtues of the first two, remaining a fantasy of hyper-competence, with playful wit even as the story goes to some dark places. Recommended.


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