I first read this book in 1985, in the UK, when the three short novels that make up the series were published as a beautiful Trade Paperback under the title “The True Game”.
I decided to refresh my memory of it by listening to the audiobook and see how I feel about it after thirty-one years.
Sadly, there is no audiobook version, so I had to settle for Kindle, who sell the books separately outside the UK.
“King’s Blood Four” was Sheri Tepper’s first novel. although, at just over two hundred pages, it’s a little short to be a stand alone novel.It introduces us to a world where those who have a talent for magic live in a many-layered hierarchy, determined by a taxonomy based on the type and strength of their powers, and spend their time waging “The True Game”, a ritualised form of warfare, on each other.
Those who suffer most under this arrangement are the Pawns, normal humans with no powers, who’s life force if often consumed by those with talents to fuel their magic
When I first read it, I was impressed by the breadth and the originality of the ideas and the refusal to accept that war is or should b,e a game.
Reading it again, I still found the ideas plentiful nnd powerful. I was struck by the way charisma is portrayed as magic that enables leaders to make followers love them while preventing their followers from seeing who they really are
This time around, I found the writing a little thin. The book seemed more aimed at young adult than I remember it and I found I was kept at an emotional distance by the detached, dispassionate way that Peter told his own story.
Perhaps, if I was able to erase my memory of my first reading of this book, I could come at afresh and rediscover my enthusiasm for the book and its ideas.
As it is, I won’t be re-reading the other two books in this trilogy. I’d rather keep my memory in tact.