Games People Play (in Another World) by Lou Hoffmann
October 18

Games People Play (in Another World) by Lou Hoffmann

I’m sure you’ve heard about how authors of fantasy books build great big complicated worlds and get them all figured out before they even start to write? Well… that’s not so much what happened with The Sun Child Chronicles. I mean, I tried that, and I did make up the universe and figured out how the magic would work, and where the story would go. But then, in ways both big and small, the characters smudged the lines until they had the world they wanted. I mean, the warrior uncle, Han Shieth, fell in love. The great wizard, Thurlock likes to fudge the rules of his world and magically import Twinkies, Fiddle Faddle, and other sweet junk food from Earth, and the teen hero, Lucky, likes to play games.

Even though Ethra has some similarities to Earth in the days before electrical power, telephones, cars, and all the tech that came after, it has a whole different history, and that means people work differently (they use a lot of magic), and they play differently, too. The first game Lucky learned in Ethra was Skippers—okay, so it’s almost exactly like checkers—which he plays with Cook, the man who’s job in the manor house is to do exactly what his name says. His friend Zhevi teaches him how to play Skies, a card game that’s a bit more complicated. It uses a deck of cards with pictures of stars arranged as they appear in the sky. Here’s an account of one game Lucky played with his friend Zhevi. (This happened in Wraith Queen’s Veil, book 2.)

“The game began with each player passing two cards to the other. Lucky chose the least desirable in his hand, knowing from experience that Zhevi had a way of finding anything he passed to him useful. Next, they again chose unwanted cards, but this time discarded them and took replacements from the top of the reserve deck. And so it went, two to the neighbor, two to the discard and new from the deck, six times, all the while trying to build a constellation from the stars positioned on the cards.

When the play was over, Zhevi laid his cards down with a flourish obviously born of confidence. “The Two Bears.”

Lucky looked at Zhevi’s cards, recognizing the constellations known in Earth as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. He nodded. “Good hand,” he said, “but I’ve got K’ormahk.” He laid down his cards for Zhevi’s inspection. “King of Skies.” The winged horse, known elsewhere as Pegasus, trumped everything else in the deck.”

In exchange, Lucky brought pick-up basketball to Ethra. I think Ethra got the better part of that deal.

Book 3, Ciarrah’s Light, will be released in just five days. It’s not all fun and games—not at all—but like the first two books in the series, it is an exciting, magical, roller-coaster adventure.