King's Blood Four (1983) is the first Fantasy novel in the True Game series. It is set in a world where technology is primitive, but psychic talents are well developed. There are thousands of different roles, but only eleven distinct types of talents.
The Pawns do not have psychic powers and are vulnerable to the Game talents. The Immutables seem to have no powers, but are not affected by any Game talents. In fact, Game talents are suppressed anywhere near the Immutables.
In this novel, Peter is a young foundling -- a Festival Baby -- in Schooltown. He is a student in Mertyn's House. He does not yet know what his role is.
Mertyn is a King and Gamesmaster of his own House. He is the younger brother of Mavin Manyshaped. Mertyn had found Peter outside his House years before.
Mandor is a Prince and Gamesmaster of Havad's House. He is Peter's special friend.
Chance is a cook at Mertyn's House. He has been Peter's confidante and advisor for many years.
Yarrel is a friend of Brother Chance. Peter used to play little two-space games with Yarrel.
Windlow is a Seer and Headmaster of a school established for the sons of the High King. His school is within the High Demesne.
Himaggery is a wizard. He rules the Bright Demesne.
Mavin Manyshaped is a famous shapeshifter. Yet few know much about her.
In this story, Peter is learning about Gaming. He initially calls for a Totem to King's Blood Four, but then decides that the play is wrong. After some thought, he decides on Talisman to King's Blood Four.
Gamesmaster Gervaise approves of the changed play. The initial call might have worked, but it was unconventional and the results are not known. The final call would produce the required results.
After class, Peter waits for Mandor to meet him. He falls asleep while waiting and falls on his bowl and spoon. The noise awakes him and he finds Mandor in the room.
The next morning, Peter is summoned to see King Mertyn. He doesn't know what to expect upon reaching the King's cold aerie. Mertyn wants to talk about Mandor and his relationship with Peter.
Peter is pleased at the King's pleasant manner, but doesn't pay much attention to his comments. Although Peter's attachment to Mandor is forbidden, lots of things are forbidden. People do forbidden things all the time.
Mandor gives Peter some special ribbons to wear for the Festival. Then Mertyn offers to have his manservant sew them on. Mertyn asks Peter to accompany him to a meeting with Mandor. Mandor tries to game King Mertyn and loses badly.
Then Mertyn sends Peter away from Schooltown with Chance and Yarrel. They are going to Windlow's House in the High Demesne. On the way, they are chased by a Pawner ship and followed by other pawns.
This tale takes Peter through the land of the Immutables. He flees to the Bright Demesne. Eventually, he reaches the High Demesne. Then he meets Mavin Manyshaped.
Peter finally finds out his talent. He takes part in a Great Game. And he learns something of his heritage.
This novel is only the first of a trilogy. The next installment is Necromancer Nine. Read and enjoy!
Highly recommended for Tepper fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of various magics, formal games, and growing boys.
-Arthur W. Jordin