Game of the Gods

Jay Schiffman. Tor, $16.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-30613-5
Schiffman combines human drama with high-stakes political intrigue in a daring debut brought down only by its by-the-numbers setting. Max Cone is a high judge in the totalitarian Federacy, charged with approving or denying claims to Federacy citizenship. He longs to step out of the political limelight and spend time with his beloved family, but his dreams are shattered when the world is plunged into a catastrophic war and his wife and children are killed. Different nations vie to have Cone as their pawn, but he only wants to avenge his loved ones and keep the world he knows from utterly collapsing. To these ends, he joins with a band of outsiders, including a telepathic teenager, a mathematical genius, a religious fanatic, and a drug-addled former revolutionary. Schiffman’s novel falls prey to the typical trappings of post-apocalyptic fiction: the society is bureaucratic and totalitarian, and the descriptive passages are clunky. Where Schiffman’s work shines is in the character-driven drama and the well-developed band of misfits. Though there are some admirable twists and turns, the unoriginal premise hobbles an otherwise impressive work. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2018
Release date: 07/10/2018
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