Book Review: The Philosophical Strangler, by Eric Flint

Baen
342 pp.

I first read The Philosophical Strangler when it was being posted in sections on Baen’s Bar. It is a humorous fantasy about politics, weaponised philosophy and revolution. Our Protagonists are a professional strangler named Greyboar and his hapless agent Ignace. Though very successful in his profession, Greyboar is feeling a great deal of ennui about his lifestyle. Motivated by the disapproval of his political activist sister, he attempts to find a philosophy worth following. (Ignace is not happy about this, and complains about it frequently.)

Then Ignace finds out that if Greyboar searching for a worthwhile philosophy was bad, Greyboar actually finding one turns out to be even worse. Ignace finds himself being dragged along on missions involving “Joeist” heretics, an artist who is too handsome for his own good and thrilling heroics of various kinds. (The last being particularly worrisome, since Ignace and Greyboar are not heroes. They have a reputation as lowlifes to maintain, and being a hero is not a lucrative profession!)

Since this is Eric Flint, we also have some romances. Ignace ends up in a relationship with two young ladies after Greyboar is hired by the former “paramour” of one of them. (Greyboar does not strangle women. The guy who hired him neglected to mention that his “mistress” ran away with her seamstress. This created some severe difficulties with Greyboar’s professional ethics. Said problems were resolved by the young ladies hiring him to strangle the guy who hired him.) Meanwhile, Greyboar pursues a strange woman known only as Schrodinger’s Cat, a woman who defies physics and all notions of predictability.

Stories of Greyboar’s thrilling heroics eventually lead to his sister Gwendolyn turning up, asking for his help to rescue her on-again-off-again boyfriend Benvenuti Sfondroti-Piccolomini. This leads to a trip to Hell and the Place Worse than Hell to rescue him. (These chapters are written in verse and are a parody of Dante’s Inferno.)

This is a fun book with a lot of clever (and not so clever; oh god the puns) humor.

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Filed under Eric Flint, fantasy, humor, non-earth, Review: Book

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