There weren't any new copies of K.J. Parker's Purple and Black available from Barnes & Noble, only used copies. If you click on the book cover, it will take you to a search of Barnes & Noble's site for "purple and black" — maybe they'll get more listings for it later on.
Anyway, this is the second book by K.J. Parker that I've read, though this one is really only a novella. I read The Company a little while back, and was really impressed with it. My husband really likes this author's books, and has read several of them, including The Folding Knife and, more recently, The Hammer.
Purple and Black is short, only about 100 pages, and written in epistolary form — a series of letters back and forth. You gather from the letters that the emperor of some unknown fantasy kingdom has come to the throne quite unexpectedly — he was a ways down on the list, but the rest of his family all killed one another, so it fell to him. He's sent his old college buddy out to one of the border territories to deal with an insurgency, even though his buddy is more of a scholar and has absolutely no military experience.
One of the things I really like about K.J. Parker's books is the wry, slightly understated sense of humor. There's a lot of that in this one, especially in the emperor's friend's letters. The end is surprising, though — I didn't see it coming, and I usually have a pretty good sixth sense for unexpected twists in a novel's plot.
I hope this book will be available in ebook eventually, because the hardback is a little difficult to get your hands on. It was only available as a limited edition, so now you can only find it from third-party sellers. However, if your library has a copy or you can find a reasonably priced used one, it's definitely worth reading!