Book Review: The Gameshouse – The Serpent, The Thief and The Master by Claire North

by @edent | # #

Book cover.

Everyone has heard of the Gameshouse. But few know all its secrets.
It is the place where fortunes can be made and lost though chess, backgammon – every game under the sun.
But those whom fortune favours may be invited to compete in the higher league where the games played are of politics and nations, of economics and kings. It is a contest where Capture the Castle involves real castles and where hide and seek takes place on the scale of a continent.
Among those worthy of competing in the higher league, three unusually talented contestants play for the highest stakes of all…

This is a curious and fascinating book.

Originally it was released as three separate stories and is now available in a single volume. It is a vast, tangled, global conspiracy theory – where immortals toy with individuals and nations.

The first book is written in an idiosyncratic style which makes it a bit cumbersome to parse. Similar to her earlier work The End of The Day; its challenging prose masks an excellent story of betrayal and love.

The next two stories are far better. Action packed, glamorous, with a cinematic and emotionally complex finale.

The book lingers on in my thoughts. The shadowy players of The Gameshouse are clearly supernatural. But I don’t think that stops them from being any less real. They are the helping hand behind the butterfly effect, a tool to manage chaos. Out in the real world, we rarely know when we are pawns in someone else’s plan. Perhaps Shakespeare was wrong and all the world’s a chessboard?

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