A Fairly Honourable Defeat had a great premise. A university professor, Julius, decides to test his friends' relationships by planting ideas and otherwise messing with their lives. He doesn't believe in love or emotional bonds - for him, relationships will always be selfish and one will abandon ones partner in a heartbeat if the situation was right enough. The characters in this book aren't likeable. We have Robert and his wife Hilda, Robert's brother Simon and Simon's partner and Robert's old friend Axel, Hilda's sister Morgan, Morgan's husband Thallis and finally Julius King, Axel and Robert's friend form college. The only people I found likable at all was Thallis, Hilda and Simon. The others act selfishly the whole book and I found myself despising them sometimes. Morgan, absorbed in herself and looking for something huge and life-defining, is the worst here. She's immature and has never learnt that her actions have consequences. She kinds of rushes through her decisions and ideas and expects everyone else to change or adjust themselves accordingly. For example, she cheats on her husband, comes back and kind of throws her dislike of him in his face but doesn't want a divorce. I really hate that kind of character.Axel got on my nerves too on many occasions. But still, the point *is* to somewhat dislike these characters. None of them is in any way in touch with reality except Thallis - though he tries his best to occupy his mind and time with something else to escape life. He's in many ways the complete opposite of the rest of the characters. He is 'a man of action' while the rest of the characters do nothing but talk about doing the right thing (the restaurant scene and the ending comes to mind).I liked the book. The first half is a little dry and nothing happened for a while, but once the book picks up the plot, it gets really good.