- Mass Market Paperback
- Publisher: Ace Books; Reissue edition (Dec 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0441445268
- ISBN-13: 978-0441445264
- Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.7 x 1.8 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,951,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Peter is a young student at Mertyn's school at Schooltown, where young potentials go to find out if they will be players in the true game, or pawns. He is still a novice, and has demonstrated no great skill when Mandor, a Prince and gamesmaster, takes advantage of their friendship. Mandor deliberately tries to sacrifice Peter in an unsanctioned game declared against King Mertyn. While Mandor is undone and banished, Peter is badly injured. Mertyn decides that it would be best to send Peter to study at the school at High Demesne.
Peter, accompanied by his friend Yarrell and Chance, who serves as cook, advisor, and guide, set out across the lands of the True Game, The reader gradually learns the language of the place, with mind reading demons, princes full of glamour, heralds who fly and are the voices of kings, and perhaps a shape changer or too. All of this sounds wonderful until you find out that what fuels power is heat. When the heat in the great furnaces fails then the pawns are drained like sticks of wood. In Peter's world, a game once called is a death sentence for those who fail.
Eventually, Peter will meet with Himaggery, the wizard of the Bright Demesne, Silkhands the Healer, and many other quirky and sometimes horrific characters. He discovers that he is being sought by suspicious characters a purpose he does not comprehend. With danger all about him, Peter enters a quest that will grant him insight into his history, his powers, and the importance of heresy.
This book is a treasure of modern fantasy. The characters are compelling, and Tepper has the minimalist's skill for bringing images to life with a few sure strokes. She also has a solid sense of the mechanism and ethics of magical powers, and manages to demonstrate this without overbearing lectures or any more tragedy than is absolutely necessary. "King's Blood Four' and its sister volumes are required reading for those who want to understand how modern fantasy came to be more than a perpetual rehash of archetypes and elves. By all means, track down the volumes of the story of the True Game. They are each short, and will stay in your mind forever,
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