In 1610, a woman in Venice is trapped in marriage with a husband who is a compulsive gamer and womanizer. When he brings her to the gamehouse, she discovers she has a skill for games. Eventually she is invited to play for higher stakes.
There’s a long history of game motifs in fantasy. In this instance, while the game itself may have some background mystical elements, the actual story has concrete elements of political machinations. There is something beautiful in it, but it is the beauty of contrived artfulness, the sense that this picture is created. It is, perhaps, the difference between Ansel Adams
Whether or not you enjoy this novella will depend on your tolerance for ambiguity, playing with the narrative form and general love of vivid language. I enjoyed it a great deal, but I happen to enjoy North/Griffin’s use of language, her ability to create characters and evoke settings. Coming from a child’s book that beat the reader on the head thematically, I particularly enjoyed the ambiguity of it.
“Are we perhaps a little sad? Have we, who know the turning of the times and have heard whispers of a future not yet named, developed some semblance of sentimentality that clouds us to the truth of things? Do we wish to be victorious and humane? How foolish we have become in our old age. How unwise.”