This was one of those fortunate finds. It was on an offer and I wanted to find three books to take advantage of it. The blurb for this one sounded interesting.
Actually this is three shorter books rolled into one. It consists of The Serpent, The Thief and The Master.
The first follows a woman in seventeenth century Venice as she plays a game to elect a ruler. The second is about a Frenchman playing hide and seek across 1930s Thailand. The last concerns an old player challenging the owner of The Gameshouse.
It’s a very novel idea, and tickled the part of me that suspects there’s a game behind the game — one that only a few people know is being played yet encompasses the planet. An idea I think appeals to many.
All of the stories have great characters, wonderfully rendered by Peter Kenny. Some appear so briefly they are stereotypes but lovable ones. The backgrounds are wonderful in their detail as well, especially well drawn was Thailand (to someone who hasn’t been).
The first two stories really chimed with me and I was drawn back to them, but the third — by far the most ambitious in scope — didn’t work as well; in part because so much is squeezed into something of short story length. The plot runs as if on fast-forward, with ever-more over-the-top set pieces and sacrifices. The humanity of it was lost.
As I say, narrator Peter Kenny does a great job of breathing life into the characters. One of the better readers I have listened to.
There’s a great concept underlying all of the stories, and plenty of room to explore innumerable paths within the universe, so I would be interested to see what else could be done.