• How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It

  • The Siege, Book 2
  • By: K. J. Parker
  • Narrated by: Ray Sawyer
  • Length: 12 hrs and 43 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (111 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $21.81

Buy for $21.81

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

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, it turns out that people 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.

This is the story of Notker, an occasionally good man and a terrible liar. With razor-sharp prose and ferocious wit, K.J. Parker has created one of fantasy's greatest heroes, and he might even get away with it.

©2020 One Reluctant Lemming Co Ltd (P)2020 Hachette Audio UK

What listeners say about How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    78
  • 4 Stars
    22
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    72
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    64
  • 4 Stars
    19
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

not quite as good as sixteen ways...

the best parts of this book were the references to the previous book. the main character is an actor instead of an engineer, so that might entice some readers. it wasn't as clever or as funny as its prequel, and the ending wasn't as satisfying. I'd recommend "sixteen ways to defend a walled city" to anyone, but unless the author makes this into a trilogy, most people can skip this book.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

It's great

I don’t have to convince Parker’s fans to buy his books; they’ll do it anyway - even his weaker books beat most of the low fantasy published nowadays. How to Rule the Empire and Get Away With It is a loose sequel to Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, but it works as a standalone. And it’s great

Notker, a cynic, actor, and playwright has a knack for impersonating influential people. His acting skills and physique allow him to win the audience and make a living. Things get complicated when the enemy’s trebuchet kills Lysimachus, a venerated war hero. Without him, the city is doomed. It turns out Notker resembles him. A bit. He doesn’t have scars, and he dislikes blood and violence, but who cares. Definitely not the conspirators who coerce him into impersonating the hero.

Notker’s ex-girlfriend, Hodda, gets caught up in intrigue as well. To make matters more interesting, she used to date the real Lysimachus. Not to mention other influential figures. The pair gets tangled in a web of lies, and things escalate quickly. The Senate appoints Notker as Emperor and wants him to lead the war against King Ogus and his ruthless warriors. While Hodda plays an important role in the story, we stay in Notker’s head and POV. Like most of Parker’s protagonists, he’s no hero:

Me, I don’t care about the bad guys, so long as they keep the hell away from me. When they get too close in my face, I tell lies and run away. That means I’ll never be a hero, but I don’t mind that. I do character parts and impersonations.


Notker’s sardonic voice, and his cynically philosophical asides about life, love, and politics, charmed me. Despite his shortcomings, Notker makes do. He uses his wit and resources to ensure an exciting and surprising finale. I love Parker's use of tight first-person narration. It always makes me laugh, think, and brood over the condition of humanity.

Ah, the people. My countrymen, my fellow citizens, my brothers. Mind you, some of them are all right, when you get to know them. But a lot of them aren’t; and here’s a funny thing, because when you mix them together, the ones that are all right and the ones that aren’t, as often as not the resulting blend is far worse than the sum of its parts. Greedier, more cowardly, more stupid.


Parker conveys backstories through instant immersion into the everyday life of Notker, an actor turned Emperor trying to save the day against impossible odds. He has no illusions about his countrymen, but he’ll try to help them, anyway.

Nothing changes more often, more rapidly or more radically than the past. Yesterday’s heroes are today’s villains. Yesterday’s eternal truths are today’s exploded myths. Yesterday’s right is today’s wrong, yesterday’s good is today’s evil. And tomorrow it’ll all be one hundred and eighty degrees different, on that you can rely.


Much as I enjoyed Sixteen Ways to Defend The Walled City, I liked How to Rule the Empire and Get Away With It more. It feels tighter and Notker is easier to like than Orhan, even if there are a few moments where pacing could be improved. Still, this is a fantastic novel. Parker provides an immersive story with clever twists and uncomfortable truths about human nature and society in elegant yet utterly unpretentious prose.

One could argue that whole of Parker's oeuvre has the same general feel. And that he writes only one character with the same fatalistic but humorous outlook on life. And yet, as a writer, he gets away with it because he does it so well and he always offers unexpected twists. How to Rule the Empire and Get Away With It is darkly funny and cheerfully horrific. I had a great time reading it.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

A monotonous, substanceless mountain

This reads like a frat guy’s essay for creative writing that he wrote last minute.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good Parker

How to Rule an Empire is a decent Parker novel. Enjoyable, great character, and the usual snarky charm.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent sequel, but also excellet alone

While the first book explored what it was to be the unlikely hero, this book explores the unwilling hero Additionally the book shifts more from warfare to politics and economics.

i enjoyed every bit of it. And Mr Sawyers narration remains spectacular.

I can't wait to see how the Saga of the Robur ends in the next story.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Different and Very enjoyable

I am really enjoying this series. The author shows terrific talent at managing characters and his created cultures as they transition over long periods. Excellent world building while having truly thought provoking themes about our own world. Bravo.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jaspal
  • Jaspal
  • 01-16-22

Great follow up to the first book

All the books in the series seem to be kind of similar: bad stuff to be dealt with, unlikely 'hero' reads a book and assembles a cast of partners to deal with the bad stuff.
It all works really well :)

Narration is brilliant with one exception: the female voices have a weird nasal quality that doesn't sound even vaguely feminine, which is a shame given the quality of the rest of the narration.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Otto
  • Otto
  • 05-13-22

A great followup to the first book!

very good followup. Funny, witty, and a great narrator! I wish there were more than 3 in the series!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for TripleD
  • TripleD
  • 10-06-21

Fantastic sequel

Every bit as good as Sixteen ways... an absolute must for fans. Can't wait for the third book!