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The Master by Claire North

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The Master by Claire North The Master by Claire North
Narrator: Peter Kenny
Series: The Gameshouse #3
Published by Hachette Audio on November 3, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
Length: 3 hrs 52 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
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The Gameshouse is an unusual institution.

Many know it as the place where fortunes can be made and lost though games of chess, backgammon - every game under the sun.

But a select few, who are picked to compete in the higher league, know that some games are played for higher stakes - those of politics and empires, of economics and kings . . .

And now, the ultimate player is about to step forward.

Ah – the last of the trilogy. I’m sad to see it end. Honestly – read it. If you enjoy fantasy or games or just thrillers for that matter, this is a great set of novellas. In this last one, we even have a love story of sorts.

This time around the game is chess and our narrator has become one of the players, a player in the Great Game – the game for control of the Gameshouse. His name is Silver and he’s been working toward this moment for ages. He’s a King in the game, of course, and has gathered forces that he can deploy. His opponent has her own resources, possibly more powerful than his.

This one had even more action than the last two. Chess is a dangerous game, but it also has more meaning – for the world as a whole and for Silver personally.

My one complaint had to do with a part near the end. Silver became a little too melodramatic for me.

I don’t what else I can really say that I haven’t said in my reviews for The Serpent and The Thief. I love the use of language, of descriptions. Some of the characters are fully-developed, some are left a bit mysterious, which fits the mood of the novellas.

I am definitely glad I discovered Claire North. I’ve already started her newest novel.

About Claire North

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Catherine currently works as a theatre lighting designer and is a fan of big cities, urban magic, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.

The Thief by Claire North

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The Thief by Claire North The Thief by Claire North
Narrator: Peter Kenny
Series: The Gameshouse #2
Published by Hachette Audio on November 3, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Length: 3 hrs 41 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

The Gameshouse is an unusual institution.

Many know it as the place where fortunes can be made and lost through games of chess, backgammon - every game under the sun.
But a select few, who are picked to compete in the higher league, know that some games are played for higher stakes - those of politics and empires, of economics and kings . . .

In 1930s Bangkok, one higher league player has just been challenged to a game of hide and seek. The board is all of Thailand - and the seeker may use any means possible to hunt down his quarry - be it police, government, strangers or even spies . . .

I’m not a fan of playing hide-and-seek. When I was a kid, I was always afraid everyone else would go inside or to another kid’s house and just leave me hiding. I don’t think it ever actually happened, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t worry about it. And it was even worse if it was dark.

The hide-and-seek game in The Thief is awesome though. The “board” is Thailand in the 1930s and the stakes are huge, but the game might be unfairly weighted. This is the second in the trilogy and I think they should definitely be read, or listened to, in order. Thene’s game in The Serpent was not exactly fair either, but that was nothing in comparison to the disadvantages our player is dealing with here. It’s a thread thoughout – the Gameshouse may not be as fair as it (she) would like you to believe.

Once again, North does  wonderful job building her world. Thailand in the 30s is not a place I’m familiar with but I love how she made us feel like we were there. Once again, the story is narrated by an unseen watcher who takes us with him to observe the game being played, which makes it a natural fit for audio. Remy Burke is the first to hide. He agreed to the game when he was drunk, and is a half-English half-French six foot tall white man with little money trying to hide in Thailand – he stands out. But he’s an experienced player and knows that not only is it a game about hiding, it’s also about finding the other player when the sides switch.

This one definitely sets up the third. I even like the three novella set up . Each is a self-contained game, but they need to be read in order to get the full feel of the series.

About Claire North

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Catherine currently works as a theatre lighting designer and is a fan of big cities, urban magic, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.

The Serpent by Claire North

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The Serpent by Claire North The Serpent by Claire North
Narrator: Peter Kenny
Series: The Gameshouse #1
Published by Hachette Audio on November 3, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Length: 3 hrs 56 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

In 17th Century Venice exists a mysterious establishment known only as the Gameshouse.

There, fortunes are made and fortunes are broken over games of chess, backgammon and every other game under the sun.

But those whom fortune favours may be invited to compete in the higher league . . . a league where the games played are of politics and empires, of economics and kings. It is a league where Capture the Castle involves real castles, where hide and seek takes place on a scale as big as the British Isles.

Not everyone proves worthy of competing in the higher league. But one woman, who is about to play, may just exceed everyone's expectations.

Though she must always remember: the higher the stakes, the more deadly the rules . . .

We play a lot of games at our house- for me it’s mostly board games. I just don’t feel the draw of video games that Amber and David do, but I love board games. We play a variety, from old standards to newer ones, board games, card games, dice. That’s what drew me to the Gameshouse trilogy. I love that North took playing games and made into a world transforming power.

The Serpent is the first of the novellas. The story is told to us by the narrator, an unseen watcher who takes us with him as he observes the gamers. He’s sly and smart and his outlook rubs off on us. I listened to the audio and this narration style worked really well that way. The narrator was the narrator, if that makes sense.

It’s short, but rich and full. I love the way North uses language and world she creates, both of historic Venice and the Gameshouse itself.

Thene is an amazing character. Her husband, who is pretty awful, introduces her to the Gameshouse. As he gambles away everything, she becomes an adept, intelligent player, making her way through the ranks until she is invited to play in the higher league, where armies and battleships are real, where even immortality can be a prize.  Thene has strengths and weaknesses, but she is playing to win.

We have the feeling too, that though the game Thene is playing really only affects Venice, the Gameshouse itself has more secrets that we will learn about.

I loved The Serpent. After I was finished I immediately picked up #2. It’s fantasy, but mostly it’s political maneuvering and manipulating people, using your assets and outwitting your enemies. And playing the game.

About Claire North

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Catherine currently works as a theatre lighting designer and is a fan of big cities, urban magic, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.

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