thinking out loud

The Tough Guide to Chess Masters


Tough Traveling is a meme hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. I just found out about it yesterday, and since it’s inspired by DWJ’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, OF COURSE I had to join in!

This week’s topic is CHESS MASTERS

A true master knows where all the pieces are at all times.  Others may think they have taken control but alas, the master knew their last move before they played it.

Here are two of my favourite chess masters:

Eugenides from Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

thiefGen is the ultimate chess master. Also, Megan Whalen Turner is an author that I would recommend to anyone who loves DWJ. Gen/Eugenides is a thief. The Queen’s thief. Which is actually a title. He steals everything from mythological objects to queens of neighbouring countries, but he also Plots Stuff.

The thing about Gen is I can’t really say anything about Gen without spilling out entire stories and conversations and basically retelling entire books, but let’s just say that in the four Queen’s Thief books – The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and Conspiracy of Kings – he outwits everyone again and again, and makes you want to kiss and strangle him/the book at the same time with his PLOT TWISTS (yes, in capital letters). Maybe there are people that can calmly and coherently explain who Eugenides is and what the Queen’s Thief books are about. I am not one of them.

Cassel from the Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black

whitecatSometimes I think Cassel may be Gen in another universe. He’s less practised, and doesn’t talk to gods, but he grew up as the only non-magical son in a magical crime family so instead, he becomes a con artist. And he is VERY GOOD at what he does. When he finds himself sleepwalking on a roof he starts a chain of events where he discovers that he may have powers after all, some of his family members might be up to no good, and that he’ll have to pull off various cons just to keep ahead of the game. The interesting thing about Cassel is that he starts out not as a “chess master”, but as a piece being manipulated by someone else, and he spends much of the books not only trying to get free without being noticed by those manipulating him, but out-conning the other pieces and the chess master in the process. Now I want to reread this trilogy.

Other chess masters include Dumbledore and Gandalf, and my friend Kit suggests several DWJ characters and several from Garth Nix’s Abhorsen books, and there are probably more characters that I’m forgetting, but I’m still not feeling well enough to do a long post, and anyway, Gen and Cassel are my favourites.




8 thoughts on “The Tough Guide to Chess Masters

  1. I just read the first book of the Queen’s Thief series and while I liked it (and Eugenides especially), I’m not sure I fell in love. Would you recommend the rest of the series?


    1. Yes, I would – I think I was lucky to have read the first two books back to back, because I wasn’t that enamored with The Thief either, the first time I read it. (Maybe it’s the middle grade thing, I’m not sure.) I did like the mythologies introduced in it, but I wasn’t too keen on Gen as a character. But then I read The Queen of Attolia, and that made me reread The Thief. So I guess I would recommend that you try the next book at least, and if you’re still not into it, you probably won’t be for now, since the following books all focus more on the tension/intrigue between the three countries.


  2. I think I tried The Thief and didn’t finish it but I remember nothing. I don’t even remember why I didn’t finish it. I should give it another try – have you listened to the audio by any chance?


    1. I find it hard to concentrate on audio books, so no. My mind always gets distracted by other stuff and I end up not listening. I need to be reading something to concentrate even when watch movies – so I watch them with subtitles, always.

      Because most of The Thief is the characters going on a journey, I do think it can be too slow or draggy for some readers. Fortunately the following books aren’t like that 🙂


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