A twisty tale of magicians, con artists and card games, where secrets are traded and gambled like coin, for fans of The Lies of Locke Lamora and The Mask of Mirrors.
Never stake more than you can afford to lose.
When failed magician turned cardsharp Valen Quinol is given the chance to play in the Forbearance Game—the invitation-only tournament where players gamble with secrets—he can’t resist. Or refuse, for that matter, according to the petty gangster sponsoring his seat at the table. Valen beats the man he was sent to play, and wins the most valuable secret ever staked in the history of the tournament.
Now Valen and his motley crew are being hunted by thieves, gangsters, spies and wizards, all with their own reasons for wanting what’s in that envelope. It’s a game of nations where Valen doesn’t know all the rules or who all the players are, and can’t see all the moves. But he does know if the secret falls into the wrong hands, it could plunge the whole world into war…
Alex Livingston grew up in various quiet New England towns before moving to Buffalo, NY to study English at Canisius College. He writes SFF prose and interactive fiction. Alex is married and lives in an old house with his brilliant wife and a pile of aged videogame systems.
My thoughts: this was an interesting premise – staking a secret on a card game, that should you lose, would no longer be yours. But first Valen and his friends have other games to play. When they become the owners of this secret, one that threatens to destabilise the carefully maintained political balance, they must risk everything to stop it causing war or worse.
I liked Valen, Margo, Jaq and Ten, the interplay between them was intriguing – the trust they seem to share, but always carefully, you can’t really trust another cheat. Their plans and double crosses, the careful tricks they use to win, but just enough so it doesn’t become too obvious.
It was a bit slow going but once the plot and the secret that lay behind everything, started to gather pace and draw in other players, not all of whom know what’s going on yet, it got a lot more enjoyable and interesting.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.