Christopher Nuttall's The Great Game was published in a digital edition in August 2013 and in paperback in December 2013. The Great Game is a sequel to The Royal Sorceress.
Information about Christopher Nuttall:
Christopher Nuttall has been planning sci-fi books since he learned to read. Born and raised in Edinburgh, Chris created an alternate history website and eventually graduated to writing full-sized novels. Studying history independently allowed him to develop worlds that hung together and provided a base for storytelling. After graduating from university, Chris started writing full-time. As an indie author, he has self-published a number of novels. The Royal Sorceress was the first of his novels to be published by Elsewhen Press. Chris is currently living in Borneo with his wife, muse, and critic Aisha.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Click here to visit the author's blog.
Information about The Great Game:
After the uprising in London, Lady Gwendolyn Crichton is settling into her new position as Royal Sorceress and fighting the prejudice against her gender and age that seeks to prevent her fulfilling her responsibilities. But when a senior magician is murdered in a locked room and Gwen is charged with finding the culprit, her inquiries lead her into a web of intrigue that combines international politics, widespread aristocratic blackmail, gambling dens and personal vendettas... and some of her discoveries hit dangerously close to home.
Continuing on from the end of The Royal Sorceress, The Great Game follows Gwen's unfolding story as she assumes the role formerly held by Master Thomas. A satisfying blend of whodunit and magical fantasy, it is set against a backdrop of international political unrest in a believable yet simultaneously fantastic alternate history.
A REVIEW OF CHRISTOPHER NUTTALL'S THE GREAT GAME
Christopher Nuttall's The Great Game is a wonderfully entertaining and intriguing sequel to The Royal Sorceress. It continues the story of Lady Gwendolyn Crichton, the Royal Sorceress, in an interesting way.
Before I write more about The Great Game, I think it's good to mention that this book can probably be read as a standalone book, because the author briefly writes about the previous happenings and refers to them. However, I do recommend reading The Royal Sorceress before this book, because it's good to know a few things about the world and what has happened to the characters. If you aren't familiar with the characters, it may be difficult to understand certain things.
I have to mention that I like Christopher Nuttall's writing style. He has his own writing style and he pays a lot of attention to the atmosphere and keeps things interesting for the reader. His descriptions of the places, magic, characters and happenings are compelling.
Just like the previous book, The Great Game doesn't overwhelm the reader with historical details and historical prose. Readers don't have to be experts on history to enjoy this book, because the author has written an entertaining story that will fascinate the readers with plot twists and vivid descriptions of a woman's place in the Victorian society. All the reader has to do is to enjoy the story and let it unfold.
I have to mention that although several books have been written about alternate Victorian era, Christopher Nuttall's vision of it differs nicely from other authors' visions. In my opinion he concentrates perfectly on delivering an entertaining story that contains both fantasy and detective fiction elements. There are quite a lot of fantasy books with detective elements in them, but there's something in Christopher Nuttall's enthusiastic writing style that separates him from other authors and makes this book fresh.
Here's information about the story:
In The Royal Sorceress Gwen became the Roayl Sorceress and had to learn many new things. She's still learning things, but she also has to show that she's worthy of being the Royal Sorceress. There are several men who would rather see her stripped of her status and placed with a male sorcerer. Gwen has an adopted daughter, Olivia. Lord Mycroft asks Gwen to investigate the death of Sir Travis Mortimer, because it's Gwen's responsibility to investigate magical crimes. Gwen doesn't have any experience about investigating this kind of crimes, so she finds herself on new ground. What her investigations reveal is interesting...
(That's all I'll write about the story, because knowing too much about the happenings would ruin everybody's reading pleasure.)
The Great Game is just as good and entertaining as The Royal Sorceress. The Royal Sorceress was the growing up story of Gwen and this book continues the same theme, but in a bit different way, because Gwen has to learn to be as good a Royal Sorceress as possible and she has to be able to handle politics, investigations and other similar things that are expected of her (she has several duties). She has to fight and prove that she's capable of doing her job, because she knows that there are men who would like to see her replaced by a male sorcerer.
The author continues to deepen Gwen's character in this book and that's a good thing, because she's one of the most intriguing heroines in modern fantasy series. Gwen is a delightfully intelligent, powerful and stubborn young woman who refuses to be treated badly by men. She doesn't want to submit to the common rules and norms of the male dominated society that allow very little freedom to women. I think that several readers will enjoy reading about Gwen's thoughts about these things, because she has her own opinions about them.
Gwen has to deal with several things in this book. Reading about these things is very interesting for the reader, because the author writes enthusiastically about them and shows how Gwen handles them. For example, Gwen destroys the farms, which were used to breed sorcerers. The readers also get to read how Gwen punishes sorcerers who don't behave properly and how she investigates a murder.
Although Gwen is the protagonist in this book, the author also writes about other characters in an interesting way. It was great to read about Lestrade, Sir Charles, Lord Mycroft, Lady Elizabeth, Lady Bracknell and other characters. All of these characters are portrayed realistically and believably. Sir Charles is an especially interesting character and, in my opinion, the author handles well what happens between Gwen and Sir Charles.
I'm not sure if all readers will notice this, but I noticed that the author uses the characters to explore how their position in the society and all the things that have happened to them affect their way of thinking and social behaviour.
The scene at the beginning of the book in which Gwen investigates The Worshipful Order of Ancient Wisdown is a brilliant scene. It was a nice touch that the author wrote about how the Worshipful Master began to read spells from a book written by a mad Arab. I guess that all fans of weird fiction and horror fiction know what book it is, so I won't write more about it. (Just in case somebody isn't familiar with it, I can reveal that it is mentioned in a few of H. P. Lovecraft's stories.)
It was interesting to read the Colonel Sebastian's letter to The Times, because it showed how little respect he had towards Gwen and her talents. His letter demonstrates perfectly how some men feel about Gwen and her position. It was also interesting to read how somebody had anonymously sent Gwen dolls to play with.
One of the best things about The Great Game is that the author writes boldly about a woman's place in the Victorian era. He shows how women were mostly respected as housewives and weren't given jobs etc, because men took care of everything. Women were almost like slaves to men and had to obey them or they would suffer for their bad behaviour.
Christopher Nuttall writes fascinatingly about how Gwen feels about the farms, because they were places that were turned into baby factories to produce sorcerers. The fates of the people who were taken to the farms weren't nice. I think it's great that the author has had courage to write about this, because it adds brutality and harshness to the storyline. Destroying the farms is part of Gwen's attempts to fix the mistakes that were done in the past.
In my opinion Christopher Nuttall has a talent for writing about magic, because writes perfectly about magic and magical abilities. He's one of the few authors who clearly seem to love writing about magic and all things related to it.
If somebody happens to read this book before The Royal Sorceress, I think it's good to explain a few things about magical talents and Gwen's powers. There are different magical talents and most people can only use one talent. If a person can use all the talents, he/she is a Master. Because Gwen can control all the talents, she's a unique person.
In this book, I especially enjoyed reading about the Sensitives, because their lives weren't easy. I found it interesting that nobody couldn't lie to them and they could be crippled easily by a sudden loud noise. I also enjoyed reading about how Gwen used her powers. The author writes about her powers and abilities in a surprisingly fluent and natural way. For example, the scene in which Gwen opens a safe with her powers has been written well. I'll also mention that the scene in which Gwen fights against six combat magicians is simply fantastic, because it's an exciting scene.
The author has added several interesting elements and themes to this book and writes fluently about them. It's interesting that he writes about slavery, servants, adultery and other similar things. Reading about adultery was interesting, because men could have affairs just as long as they were discreet, but things were different for women, because their reputations were ruined immediately.
The event known as the Swing and its consequences are often mentioned in this book. The author's vision of the happenings after the Swing is compelling, because things have changed, but not everything has changed. He shows that change can be slow and frustrating.
I already mentioned that the author is capable of keeping things interesting. In this book keeps things interesting by gradually revealing new things and raising tension. I think that the author did an excellent job by adding a murder mystery to this book, because reading about Gwen's investigations is intriguing. I'm sure that when readers find out that somebody close to Gwen may be involved in the murder they won't be able to stop reading the story.
One of the best things about this book and other fantasy books by Christopher Nuttall is that he adds humour to the story. This is great, because there are several authors who don't know how to add humour to the story. The author's humour is charming and his observations about certain things are funny (and at times even sharp).
Although The Great Game is a combination of fantasy and alternate history, it offers an interesting and educational history lesson for the readers. I think it's possible that there are several readers who have never thought about how people lived in the Victorian era and how unequal men and women were during that era. This book will offer these readers something to think about, because the author dares to write about both the bad and good things that happened in the Victorian era.
Before I finish writing this review I'll mention that the afterword by the author is worth reading. I'll also mention that it's great that there will soon be a sequel to The Great Game, because the story ends in a cliffhanger (the sequel is called Necropolis).
I can recommend The Great Game to all readers who enjoy reading entertaining fantasy books, because it's pure entertainment from start to finish. If you've already read Christopher Nuttall's other books and enjoy his writing style, you should put this book to your reading list as soon as possible, because it's a good and thought-provoking fantasy book. This book offers wonderful escapism for everybody who appreciates entertaining fantasy.
Enjoyable fantasy entertainment!