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
Rating:

The Gameshouse Reviews

  • James Mork

    I enjoyed all three of these novellas and would definitely recommend them, though I must say I enjoyed the first one more than the other two by a small margin.

    It's not that the latter two are bad, it's just that there's so much more worldbuilding going on in the first novella where we get introduced to it all. We learn the about how the Gameshouse works in the first story, what it can bring to a person's life alongside some risks.

    In the second story we see a desperate struggle to avoid some risk

    I enjoyed all three of these novellas and would definitely recommend them, though I must say I enjoyed the first one more than the other two by a small margin.

    It's not that the latter two are bad, it's just that there's so much more worldbuilding going on in the first novella where we get introduced to it all. We learn the about how the Gameshouse works in the first story, what it can bring to a person's life alongside some risks.

    In the second story we see a desperate struggle to avoid some risks that was enjoyable but it doesn't add as much as the first story did.

    In the third we see the height of which the gameshouse can go to and how far a certain character is willing to go, but the ending is left intentionally open and I expected more tying up of all the themes, but instead they're just kind of left there.

    Those are my only problems with the novellas however, the premise is intriguing, the stories are great, and the performance on the audiobook is great. I'll probably come back to these at some point and I'll enjoy them each again when I do.

  •  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.

  • Ed

    More excellent work from Claire North. And these stories were written back in 2015 when she still (mostly) used full sentences as well.

    There's decent variety here in the three novellas we have presented to us; the first is a tale of intrigue and backstabbing in 1600s Venice, and probably is the strongest of the three. The second is an intense, drawn out game of cat-and-mouse across the countryside of Thailand, which is relentless in it's action but still has a great host of memorable characters.

    More excellent work from Claire North. And these stories were written back in 2015 when she still (mostly) used full sentences as well.

    There's decent variety here in the three novellas we have presented to us; the first is a tale of intrigue and backstabbing in 1600s Venice, and probably is the strongest of the three. The second is an intense, drawn out game of cat-and-mouse across the countryside of Thailand, which is relentless in it's action but still has a great host of memorable characters. The third is the least focused, despite or perhaps because of it's larger scope.

    All three focus around the mystical Gameshouse of the title, an institution somewhere slightly beyond the laws of nature which allows wagers for things like year of your life, or your skill at music, your beautiful eyes etc. It uses the somewhat unsubtle metaphor of chess and games in general to get across themes of structured life against chaos; what sacrifices we might be willing to make to be happy or to be safe; and humanity in the face of obscenity.

    These stories are not perfect, but the sign of a great book to me is when I just don't care that not every aspect adds up perfectly, because it was such good fun to read. This is book is a lot of fun, and it has a fantastic pace to it. Makes me want to see North write a James Bond film somehow, that would be incredible.

    But the prose continues to be lovely, mystical and ortherworldly whilst still being grounded. The characters, even the bit parts, could all walk right out of the pages. And the locations really manage to take me there, beautiful scenery.

  • 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:

    .

  • Lee Penney

    This was one of those fortunate finds. It was on an offer and I wanted to find three books to take advantage of it. The blurb for this one sounded interesting.

    Actually this is three shorter books rolled into one. It consists of The Serpent, The Thief and The Master.

    The first follows a woman in seventeenth century Venice as she plays a game to elect a ruler. The second is about a Frenchman playing hide and seek across 1930s Thailand. The last concerns an old player challenging the owner of The Ga

    This was one of those fortunate finds. It was on an offer and I wanted to find three books to take advantage of it. The blurb for this one sounded interesting.

    Actually this is three shorter books rolled into one. It consists of The Serpent, The Thief and The Master.

    The first follows a woman in seventeenth century Venice as she plays a game to elect a ruler. The second is about a Frenchman playing hide and seek across 1930s Thailand. The last concerns an old player challenging the owner of The Gameshouse.

    It’s a very novel idea, and tickled the part of me that suspects there’s a game behind the game — one that only a few people know is being played yet encompasses the planet. An idea I think appeals to many.

    All of the stories have great characters, wonderfully rendered by Peter Kenny. Some appear so briefly they are stereotypes but lovable ones. The backgrounds are wonderful in their detail as well, especially well drawn was Thailand (to someone who hasn’t been).

    The first two stories really chimed with me and I was drawn back to them, but the third — by far the most ambitious in scope — didn’t work as well; in part because so much is squeezed into something of short story length. The plot runs as if on fast-forward, with ever-more over-the-top set pieces and sacrifices. The humanity of it was lost.

    As I say, narrator Peter Kenny does a great job of breathing life into the characters. One of the better readers I have listened to.

    There’s a great concept underlying all of the stories, and plenty of room to explore innumerable paths within the universe, so I would be interested to see what else could be done.

  • 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. :)

  • Dan Trefethen

    Claire North asks interesting questions in her books:

    What if the justice system resembled the insurance industry, and every crime had a settled price (84K)?

    What if when you died, you were born again into the same life with all the knowledge from your previous attempts at that life (The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August)?

    What if a person's existence was forgotten by everyone she was with, ten minutes after she left their presence (The Sudden Appearance of Hope)?

    In this book, the question is a v

    Claire North asks interesting questions in her books:

    What if the justice system resembled the insurance industry, and every crime had a settled price (84K)?

    What if when you died, you were born again into the same life with all the knowledge from your previous attempts at that life (The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August)?

    What if a person's existence was forgotten by everyone she was with, ten minutes after she left their presence (The Sudden Appearance of Hope)?

    In this book, the question is a variation of an old one: What if there really was a secret organization controlling the fate of people and nations? North's variation assumes a secret house that has people who are Players and Pieces (think of chess), and compete at the largest scales, ultimately resulting in a version of the Great Game.

    While entertaining and clever in its execution, the use of an old concept and the ever-escalating nature of the elements of the game tend to resemble a thriller novel (albeit with fantasy aspects), and lessened its appeal to me. The twist at the end was not sufficient to salvage the story for me.

  • Stacey Lunsford

    A combination of three novellas, the first two are successful while the last one can't quite bring it home. The Gameshouse exists outside of time and space. People who play there start in the lower league and then, if deemed worthy, are invited to join the higher league, where the stakes of the games include armies, countries, and empires as well as years of your life, illness or health. In the first novella, Thene, a Venetian Jew married to a gentile, plays a political game with the government

    A combination of three novellas, the first two are successful while the last one can't quite bring it home. The Gameshouse exists outside of time and space. People who play there start in the lower league and then, if deemed worthy, are invited to join the higher league, where the stakes of the games include armies, countries, and empires as well as years of your life, illness or health. In the first novella, Thene, a Venetian Jew married to a gentile, plays a political game with the government of the city in order to win her freedom. In the second, Remy Burke, a player with centuries of experience, has lost his edge so a young up-and-comer challenges him to a game of hide-and-seek in Thailand with all of Remy's memories as his forfeit. In the third novella, Silver, a character in the first two, challenges the Gamesmaster herself for control of the Gameshouse. The third one lacks the intricate language and attention to detail of the first two, perhaps because it is written in the first person rather than the interesting device of the first two, in which they are observed and commented upon by umpires of the Gameshouse. It is a fascinating concept, the world's fate decided by an elite league of players, playing games from chess to Old Maid, with real-world consequences but I think it could have been built up and fleshed out more in the third novella to really make it work.

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