The True Game/ posted in: Reading The True Game by Sheri S. Tepper
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
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In the lands of the True Game, your lifelong identity emerges as you play-Prince or Sorcerer, Demon or Doyen. Raising the dead is the least of the Necromancer's Talents-he is a wild card who threatens the True Game itself. A giant stalks the mountains. Shadowpeople gather by the light of the moon. Bonedancers raise up armies of the dead. And the Wizard's Eleven sleep trapped in their dreams. Players, take your places. The final Game begins now...
If you’ve spent much time around here you know that I’m a fairly rabid Sheri S. Tepper fan. I’ve had this trilogy on my shelf for a while. I actually read book one before but got bogged down in book two. I was going to read her most recent book and then realized that she is tying together a lot of her series in that book and that I needed to have read this to understand that. So, I decided in the spirit of Weirdathon (because it totally fits that) and Read My Own Damn Books, that I was going to get through this in March.
These are the first books that she published. Because of that they are fairly different from the later books of her that I love for their feisty feminist and ecological perspectives. These are more straight high fantasy.
In this world, people in the upper classes will manifest a magical power by their late teens. They then spend the rest of the lives (which may not be long) caught up in Games, which are magical duels. Some of these are massive battles that can destroy whole regions. Some people can fly, others can transport things, others can charm people into following them, some can read minds, etc. There are 11 major powers and then numerous subcategories that can mix together weakened versions of the main eleven.
Peter is a foundling being educated at a school for boys who will grow up to be part of the game. He hasn’t shown a power yet when a scandal requires him to leave the school. On his journey he stumbles across a carved set of game pieces representing the first people who had each of the major powers. He thinks they are just toys until he realizes that when he holds them he can manifest the powers of each of them.
This is a complicated world that you get dropped down into. I generally like books that don’t spell out everything for you right off but I had a hard time understanding all the rules of the world the first time through this book. This is my favorite of the trilogy.
Peter begins to find out the secret behind his game pieces as he follows clues to the land of the wizards where these “toys” are made.
This book was slow for me. There are some very troubling stories about women here. I would have been uncomfortable with them if I didn’t know that the author became a great feminist writer. It seemed like this was her starting to put her own ideas of women overcoming submission into her stories. They don’t quite get the payoffs that they will in future novels but it was interesting to see the start of this part of her creative process. I can see why I didn’t get through this one the first time. I powered through it because I was determined more than I was really enjoying it.
It is hard to talk about the plot of this one without giving away spoilers for the other books. This one was much better than the second. The female characters get much stronger. I absolutely love the giant birds who pull a wagon. Peter shows some emotional growth as he learns how to deal with his talent.
Overall, this is a good fantasy/sci fi series but not a great one. There are glimpses here and there of the writer that she will become and you can definitely see her skills grow as she writes each book.