cover image King’s Gambit

King’s Gambit

Mark Nelson. Hadley Rille (, $16 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-0-9849670-1-8

Nelson returns to the world of The Poets of Pevana, offering another enjoyable take on romantic fantasy. Once again, the realm of Prince Donari is in danger. An inopportune visit by his cousin, King Roderran, would naturally create chaos; beyond that, there’s the conspiracy being enacted by Donari’s Prelate, Byrnard Casan, who sees this as an opportunity to do Donari in. Eleni Caralon, a scholar, is pulled into the web created by the conspiracy, and what begins as a tale of city-based political intrigue eventually shifts into a war story. Nelson occasionally takes some lazy shortcuts with his character descriptions, and Roderran’s wartime callousness feels like something out of Game of Thrones, but most of the characters hold their own—particularly Eleni, as she’s forced to deal with tragedies she didn’t prepare for. Fans of the first book will undoubtedly enjoy revisiting the characters and politics of Pevana, and Nelson does a solid job of making his world accessible to new readers as well. (June)