What is this young adult fantasy book from 198x?
April 22, 2009 9:05 AM   Subscribe

It was a 'young adult' fantasy book I read maybe 20, 25 years ago. The story was of a young kid growing up in a world of magic; the conceit was that the magical elite of the world were akin to board game pieces. I was sure it was Mercedes Lackey but apparently not?

The plot was the usual coming of age formula -- kid, smarter than but rejected by his peers, comes into unusual powers and must hide his growing powers from those who would take them from him etc., etc.

I remember the magical elite being named chesslike things -- for instance, I believe the 'bishop'-style guys were Heralds, and there were also Rook-like guys, and Pawns, and so forth. When they got together they could leverage each others' strengths to battle against the other guys -- like the Rooks could put out some kind of defensive shield and so on.

Based on my recollection of the word 'Herald' being involved, and my vague recollection that it was authored by Mercedes Lackey, I picked up 'Herald's Pawn', which turns out to be pretty super dreadful. It's possible that maybe it's one of her earlier works...but it doesn't seem to jibe with any of her books' descriptions on Amazon.
posted by felix to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Queenmagic, Kingmagic by Ian Watson?

Or, more of a stretch, The True Game trilogy by Sheri S Tepper?
posted by siskin at 9:14 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think I read this book, although I don't recall it being a YA novel as there were plenty of rather saucy bits like when the main character falls in love with a prostitute who turns out to be from the opposing chess team. I also seem to remember that the main character gains some object that allows him to "cheat" at chess and move on to other game-like worlds like Chutes-and-Ladders and Monopoly.

Ah, found it! The book I'm speaking of is Queenmagic, Kingmagic by Ian Watson.
posted by muddgirl at 9:18 AM on April 22, 2009

It was the True Game trilogy by Tepper -- thanks siskin!
posted by felix at 9:22 AM on April 22, 2009

FYI, the True Game series gets a bit saucy past the initial trilogy as well, where the author makes specific reference to a shapechanging character's ability to please the ladies.
posted by kalessin at 10:29 AM on April 22, 2009

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