The Gameshouse

The Gameshouse

The World Fantasy Award-winning author of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August presents a mesmerizing tale of a gambling house whose deadly games of chance and skill control the fate of empires.Everyone has heard of the Gameshouse. But few know all its secrets...It is the place where fortunes can be made and lost through chess, backgammon - every game under the sun.But...

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Title:The Gameshouse
Author:Claire North
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The Gameshouse Reviews

  •  Charlie - A Reading Machine

    Review to come at

  • Liz Barnsley

    The Gameshouse has an excellent premise executed with some beautifully absorbing and quirky writing, telling a fascinating story of games played at a level that the most ardent of gamer’s would struggle to comprehend..

    Imagine if you will that most of the turmoil in our world is caused not by chance, or random people and things but is, in fact, a series of challenges enacted by players and pieces on the biggest chess board available- that of the world. This then is the setting into which Claire N

    The Gameshouse has an excellent premise executed with some beautifully absorbing and quirky writing, telling a fascinating story of games played at a level that the most ardent of gamer’s would struggle to comprehend..

    Imagine if you will that most of the turmoil in our world is caused not by chance, or random people and things but is, in fact, a series of challenges enacted by players and pieces on the biggest chess board available- that of the world. This then is the setting into which Claire North places her pieces, sets the scene and the reader embarks on a thought provoking, thrilling journey through centuries….

    A play for political power followed by a cat and mouse game of hide and seek leads us to the final showdown, all the way the smart, considered narrative absorbs you into the game play, brings you engaging, divisive and mysterious protagonist’s and finally spits you out again where you’ll look at the latest breaking news with an unnerving sense of wonder…

    Clever, unpredictable, one of the most imaginative tales I’ve read lately, The Gameshouse is a sharp, atmospheric, literary and deeply layered tale of humanity. I loved it.

    Highly Recommended for everyone.

  • Paul

    The Gameshouse is a collected edition of three previously published e-novellas: The Serpent, The Thief and The Master.

    The Serpent follows a woman called Thene who plays the game of Kings in seventeenth century Venice. In a place where politics has become an art form, is it possible for the least powerful player to outsmart her rivals? As Thene learns the rules that govern this most exclusive of clubs, it acts as an ideal introduction for the reader. The power plays and underhanded tactics of com

    The Gameshouse is a collected edition of three previously published e-novellas: The Serpent, The Thief and The Master.

    The Serpent follows a woman called Thene who plays the game of Kings in seventeenth century Venice. In a place where politics has become an art form, is it possible for the least powerful player to outsmart her rivals? As Thene learns the rules that govern this most exclusive of clubs, it acts as an ideal introduction for the reader. The power plays and underhanded tactics of competitors play out against this famous city, and you quickly get a sense of how all-encompassing The Gameshouse is.

    The Thief, set in 1930s Thailand, involves one of the most complicated games of hide and seek ever played. Remy Burke, after making a foolish drunken wager, needs to disappear in a country where he sticks out like a sore thumb. Is Remy skilled enough to evade capture and use his meagre resources to turn the tables in his favour? As with its predecessor, there is a genuinely evocative air to this story. The sights and sounds of Thailand feel almost palpable.

    The Master brings us bang up to date, and follows a man called Silver in the endgame to end all endgames. What could be a better prize than The Gameshouse itself? In a Highlander-esque nod there can only ever be one Gamesmaster. The competition to determine who that will be plays out on a global scale.

    Each novella is a study in tension and escalating consequence. The scope of each story increases exponentially to reflect this. The Serpent takes place in a single city, The Thief in a single country while The Master has the entire planet as a backdrop. Each of these stories explore the nature of games, greed, regret and conflict. Individually they delight, but as part of a larger story they are something far more gripping. They dovetail together seamlessly creating a perfect whole. I was impressed how The Gameshouse manages to be many things at once. The writing doesn’t just entertain, it’s also insightful and thought-provoking. North has real skill when it comes to exploring the human condition.

    There are also some wonderful throw away lines that help flesh out the history of this strange establishment and the players that use it. I particularly like the details of the stakes people are willing to risk. One character loses his appreciation of the colour purple. Another has to part with twenty years of life. The wagers are ever increasing, and it got me thinking about just what I would be prepared to give away on the toss of a coin or the roll of a die. Being ambivalent about a certain colour seems like the most inconsequential thing, but think about it, there is far more to this pot than appears at first glance. You are essentially giving away a little bit of yourself. A tiny nugget of the uniqueness that is you and no one else. Suddenly it becomes a much riskier proposition doesn’t it? Consistently losing bets like this would equate to a slow death. Conversely, the rewards could be life altering. Imagine the chance at effective immortality or decades worth of knowledge could bring. Now ask yourself the question again, would taking that chance be worth it?

    The fact I found myself pondering such thoughts is testament to just how engrossing the writing is. The premise of The Gameshouse is fascinating. It manages to be deliciously simple and devilishly complex in the same breath. The simple part – you win, or you lose. Seems fairly binary, just black or white, zero or one. There is more complex consideration however – win or lose the outcome of your actions will have consequences. The idea that, if invited, you can play games that could potentially shape nations and change, or even end, lives is tempting and terrifying in equal measure.

    There are subtle clues to the ultimate conclusion of The Gameshouse scattered throughout the entire narrative. It’s only when I got to the last chapters though that it all clicked. These final revelations are well executed and guarantee to leave any reader feeling rewarded by the experience.

  • William

    Combined review of a Superb novella series:

    Once again Claire North provides superb prose, great intellect, astounding knowledge of foreign places and times, and a growing insight into the human heart.

    I was astounded at her intimate knowledge of Renaissance Venice and pre-WW-2 Thailand. These are living places and peoples. The rural areas of Thailand are beautifully pai

    Combined review of a Superb novella series:

    Once again Claire North provides superb prose, great intellect, astounding knowledge of foreign places and times, and a growing insight into the human heart.

    I was astounded at her intimate knowledge of Renaissance Venice and pre-WW-2 Thailand. These are living places and peoples. The rural areas of Thailand are beautifully painted, and the common people are alive and fascinating.

    Overall, a fine series, but not quite as good as her other novels.

    --

    Once again, Claire North challenges me with a new concept, a new style, a fascinating adventure. She never fails.

    This is an interesting novella, nicely plotted with good pacing, but with perhaps a bit too formal a prose style. I will be reading the sequels.

    Notes and quotes:

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  • Kate

    I'm a huge fan of Claire North's writing (and mind) and The Gameshouse is a masterpiece. Originally published as three novellas and now, finally, they fit together perfectly as one with each of the three sections building on the others to present the staggering power of the Gameshouse, the astonishing lengths to which players will pursue their games, and the slavery of the pieces that they manipulate, manouevre and sacrifice. Really, really excellent. review to follow shortly on For Winter Night

    I'm a huge fan of Claire North's writing (and mind) and The Gameshouse is a masterpiece. Originally published as three novellas and now, finally, they fit together perfectly as one with each of the three sections building on the others to present the staggering power of the Gameshouse, the astonishing lengths to which players will pursue their games, and the slavery of the pieces that they manipulate, manouevre and sacrifice. Really, really excellent. review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.

  • Marianne

    The Serpent is the first book in the Games House trilogy by award-winning British author, Claire North. In early seventeenth century cosmopolitan Venice, Thene is given in marriage at fifteen, to a gambler who has soon gamed away her dowry and more. He takes her to the Games House where all manner of games and players are to be found. He continues to lose. She watches and eventually plays, plays well, and is invited into the Higher League.

    The game in which she participates there is like other g

    The Serpent is the first book in the Games House trilogy by award-winning British author, Claire North. In early seventeenth century cosmopolitan Venice, Thene is given in marriage at fifteen, to a gambler who has soon gamed away her dowry and more. He takes her to the Games House where all manner of games and players are to be found. He continues to lose. She watches and eventually plays, plays well, and is invited into the Higher League.

    The game in which she participates there is like other games, but also not. A new Tribune is to be elected and four players each play their piece, one of the candidates for the Supreme Tribunal of Venice. To win the game, the player’s piece must be crowned King (elected Tribune). Each player is issued a mask, a letter and several other “pieces” represented by Tarot Cards, for use to achieve their goal.

    Thene’s candidate, Angelo Seluda, is not entirely sure she will be up to the task, but she assures him she plans to win: “This isn’t a game.” “Isn’t it? There are rules, boundaries, constraints on your action. Clear goals, tools to achieve them, a set table of rivals who must obey the same rules that you do if they want to reach the same end. The only difference between these events now unfolding and any other game is the scale of the board.”

    Thene is an excellent chess player and, just like chess, there are knights and bishops and castles and kings; in this case, they are real. Strategy, timing, tactics, all are essential for winning. North gives the reader a very cleverly plotted tale that unfortunately loses half a star of the potential 4.5-star rating for indulging in the annoying editorial affectation of omitting quote marks for speech. Two further books in this trilogy, The Thief and The Master, are bound to be interesting reads.

    The Thief is the second book in the Games House trilogy by award-winning British author, Claire North. In pre-WW2 Bangkok, at the Gameshouse, a very drunk Remy Burke has made an unwise wager. He has agreed to a game of Hide-and-Seek with Abhik Lee. The Board is the whole of Thailand and the stakes are high: if Remy wins, he gains twenty years of Abhik’s life; if he loses, he forfeits his own memory, all of it.

    Abhik Lee is a local with many resources, even without considering the cards the umpires give him. Despite his good command of the language, Remy Burke is a six-foot white Anglo-Frenchman with virtually no resources in the country; the rules don’t allow him to access any off the board. The game is hardly even, but Remy, extremely hungover, has no time to wonder why the Gameshouse has allowed (perhaps even encouraged?) this before he sets out to hide.

    Against the odds, Remy is not immediately caught. He does have some assistance: other players can help in minor ways, but of course there will be a future debt to pay; and some of the locals he encounters in his travels around the country are simply good people. And Remy is quick and sharp and determined, and sometimes very lucky. North gives the reader a very clever plot that also hints at what the final book of the trilogy, The Master, will involve. A brilliant read.

    The Master is the third book in the Games House trilogy by award-winning British author, Claire North. After centuries of preparation, Silver judges it’s time to play the Great Game. At the Gameshouse’s current location in New York City, Silver challenges the Gamesmaster. The decide on chess. It’s the Great Game, so the board encompasses the whole globe, and the stakes are their lives, for the players are the opposing Kings. And while Silver has amassed many resources, the Gamesmaster has the wealth of the Gameshouse at her disposal.

    Silver quickly relocates to a tiny island in the Caribbean, but stays mobile: he’s soon on an Interpol watchlist. This is chess, so strategy is all important, and he has to be careful not to use his key pieces prematurely. Those pieces are many and wide-ranging, from American Senators to German police to net hackers to FBI agents, cyber-security experts.

    The game is serious and there are many casualties: “I activate the Union of South American Nations; she plays two of the big four oil companies; I launch environmental terrorists and an insurance broker in retaliation. She turns the head of the Greek police against the insurance company; I turn the interior minister against the police. She unleashes a nationalist opposition movement against my minister; I play an orthodox patriarch and evangelical Christian TV station back at her” etc etc etc.

    The action, and there is plenty of it, sends Silver all over the world as he and the Gamesmaster battle to win. Some years into the Game, Silver reveals to one of his pieces his ultimate aim should he win, it provokes an unanticipated reaction from an unexpected quarter. This eventually leads to a very bloodthirsty climax and a rather predictable ending. A disappointing conclusion.

  • Stevie Kincade

    Book 1 The Serpent was a

    novella. I love my intrigue books and this one drew me into its world and had me on the edge of my seat throughout. I loved the concept of the gameshouse, the setting and was actively cheering for our main character Thenie. I could not wait to read the other novellas.

    Book 2 The Thief I give

    . It is quite literally a step by step recount of a game of "hide and seek". "I hid in a village then I hid in the jungle. Then I caught a boat and hid in another jungle

    Book 1 The Serpent was a

    novella. I love my intrigue books and this one drew me into its world and had me on the edge of my seat throughout. I loved the concept of the gameshouse, the setting and was actively cheering for our main character Thenie. I could not wait to read the other novellas.

    Book 2 The Thief I give

    . It is quite literally a step by step recount of a game of "hide and seek". "I hid in a village then I hid in the jungle. Then I caught a boat and hid in another jungle". We have no reason to care about our protagonist. Hard to believe this is from the same author as "The Serpent". The only redeeming feature was Peter Kenny performing a series of authentic sounding and humorous Thai accents.

    Book 3 - The Master.

    . A game in modern times for all the marbles. While the main characters of the previous 2 stories are referenced there wasn't a significant or meaningful payoff from them. Like book 2 this felt like a list as much as a story. "She sent the FBI and homeland security after me, I sent the CIA and Interpol after her. She overthrew my puppet government, I overthrew her puppet government. And on and on it went. Cool story bro!

  • Bradley

    I had to waffle between 3 and 4 stars, so call this 3.5.

    But WHY? It's Claire North! You've never read anything of hers that you've disliked!

    Well, I didn't exactly dislike this one. The first of the three novellas was pretty raveworthy, like a Machiavellian back-stabby game of thrones for people in Venice a couple hundred years ago, making and breaking kings in the Great Game they play.

    It's smart, it's almost over-the-top, and it's quite delicious for an alternate-history high-stakes secret socie

    I had to waffle between 3 and 4 stars, so call this 3.5.

    But WHY? It's Claire North! You've never read anything of hers that you've disliked!

    Well, I didn't exactly dislike this one. The first of the three novellas was pretty raveworthy, like a Machiavellian back-stabby game of thrones for people in Venice a couple hundred years ago, making and breaking kings in the Great Game they play.

    It's smart, it's almost over-the-top, and it's quite delicious for an alternate-history high-stakes secret society story.

    The second, by contrast, was good for its cool setting of 30's Thailand with rather deep descriptions... But, it just didn't have the same impact OR importance that developed in the first. For, after all, the winner of THAT game became the head of the order. (The rewards were somewhat unspecified except that it's so much better than kingships, etc.) This one was okay. The rewards for playing the game are getting fantastical, now. A real fantasy story mixed with a huge number of pieces (read human resources) being used up.

    I honestly didn't care that much about this one.

    The third novella had its ups and downs in a modern setting with an even bigger location. Note, we go from ONLY Venice to ALL of Thailand, and now, the world.

    It was *okay* until it neared the end, with resources dwindling and piling up in a truly topsy-turvy game between order and chaos, and THEN I was like.... "Okay, this is pretty damn cool."

    In fact, if any of you folks have been following the author's North-Only titles, you'll see a pretty big and awesome trend that includes immortality in one sense or another. This, in my honest opinion, is probably the very best feature of her novels. Identity, immortality, and often enough, a lot of fantastic locations.

    This one was in line with the rest. It just didn't have the same punch for me as any of her other novels.

    Still, it's decent. Not bad, taken all together. BUT I'd say just read the first novella if I was really recommending this to anyone except the Northian Die-Hards like me. :)

  • Roy

    3 novellas combined. Let me say first off that North has beautiful prose. She has a style which is unique and you can immediately tell its her writing. Novella 1 was great. Awesome idea and characters. 2 and 3 not so much. The protagonists just werent explored as well.

  • Oleksandr Zholud

    This is a SF novel that consists of three linked novellas. The novellas were published earlier, but it isd the first time they are collected under the same cover.

    Imagine there are players behind every major event of our history from the pre-historic times to the present day. The results of their game determine our history.

    The first novella,

    , is set in 1610 Venice. An estranged wife of a nobleman, who married her only to get funds to pay his debts is a gambler. And a bad gambler at th

    This is a SF novel that consists of three linked novellas. The novellas were published earlier, but it isd the first time they are collected under the same cover.

    Imagine there are players behind every major event of our history from the pre-historic times to the present day. The results of their game determine our history.

    The first novella,

    , is set in 1610 Venice. An estranged wife of a nobleman, who married her only to get funds to pay his debts is a gambler. And a bad gambler at that. Once she visits the gameshouse and sees that she is much better player. Soon she gets a chance to play the game: to install her pawn at the head of true power of the city – the Inquisitor Tribune. She gets several Tarot cards (each linked to a person), money and some other items. She uses some unusual approaches to win.

    The second novella,

    , is set in 1938 Thailand. An old player has been drunk and agreed for a game with a star upstart. The game is hide and seek and the older player is of Anglo-French origin, who sticks out in the country. Moreover, his opponent is dealt a great hand, enough pawns to overthrow a government.

    The last, third novella,

    , is set in the current time and all over the globe, for the Great Game for the ownership of the Gameshouse is played. It is a chess with whole countries as pawns.

    I liked the first two novellas more. The third at some moment turned a little bloody for a chess game

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