My dear bookish friends!
Gambling, games, magic, and many secrets – how does that sound? Good? Well, then you should keep on reading! In this post I review The Knave of Secrets by Alex Livingston for the TheWriteReads blog tour, and if these aforementioned key words strike your interest your will love this book!
Big thank you to TheWriteReads, the author, and Rebellion publishing for the ebook and my spot on this tour (neither of which have in any way influenced my review)!
So, without further ado, let’s start with the blurb and then my review!
A twisty tale of card sharps and con artists, in a world of magic where secrets are traded and gambled like coin. The Lies of Locke Lamora meets Casino Royale
Never stake more than you can afford to lose.
When failed magician turned cardsharp Valen Quinol is given the chance to play in the Forbearance Game—the invitation-only tournament where players gamble with secrets—he can’t resist. Or refuse, for that matter, according to the petty gangster sponsoring his seat at the table. Valen beats the man he was sent to play, and wins the most valuable secret ever staked in the history of the tournament.
Now Valen and his motley crew are being hunted by thieves, gangsters, spies and wizards, all with their own reasons for wanting what’s in that envelope. It’s a game of nations where Valen doesn’t know all the rules or who all the players are, and can’t see all the moves. But he does know if the secret falls into the wrong hands, it could plunge the whole world into war…
The minute I opened this book the first thing I noticed were the gorgeous maps. I love fantasy books with a good map. I just find something about them so evocative; I could spend ages just exploring them before I even start reading. Exploring the maps, the town names, the forests and the seas – and when I then see these names pop up in the book later it gives me this nice feeling, knowing that I’m already absorbed in the world and know the places in it. So, The Knave of Secrets already got a bonus point in this department!
The main character in this story is Valen Quinol. A failed magician turned gambling savant is the sort of guy who would risk it all on the turn of a card without thinking twice. It’s exactly the attitude that results in massive success and massive danger when he plays and wins the “Forbearance Game”, a super high stakes game where the promises are secrets. Valen wins and gains a secret so valuable that it could change the fate of nations.
The author clearly put a lot of effort into the worldbuilding. The aforementioned maps are a great indicator of that, but I do feel more time could have been spent on the individual characters to build them a bit more. We get to read the story from many different characters’ perspectives, which is a great way to add depth to it, but if we got to know them a little better, made them come to life a bit more, for us learn how they came to be how they ended up where they are, I think that would have made a great difference. We are introduced to a lot of people in quick succession, and it takes a bit longer than I’d like to really get a feel for them, who they are, what they have planned, and so on.
However, I love that most characters are (or seem) older than those we often get to see in fantasy these days. I also appreciated the fact that there was an Appendix at the end which helped clear things up when things got complicated. It did help a bit, and was a great reference point.
If you enjoy a good fantasy with a unique concept that is filled with card games, magicians, gambling, bargains and secrets, The Knave of Interest should be on your reading list too!
4 stars from me!
Thank you all so much for reading, and do let me know if you pick up The Knave of Secrets, and what you thought of it!
As many of you know, I design and create the banners for the TheWriteReads tours (which I LOVE), and I wanted to start sharing my experiences while creating them in my review posts! For this one I accidentally started with the wrong cover (or shall we say the old cover). I loved the green colour as well as all the different elements the cover gave me to work with, and I quite like the (almost) final result.
At first I was quite sad when I found out this was the wrong cover, and comparing this one with the current one you’ll see how different they are, but I have to admit the current one fits the story much better. I love the cloaked, hooded figure surrounded by all the smoke – it adds a nice aura of mystery that goes perfectly with the story! All in all, I’m quite happy with the end result – do let me know which one you prefer though!